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Melbourn II vs Comberton II (13th February)

Hereward Cup Quarter-Final

Melbourn lost 1-4

An oddity of the fixture list meant the 2nds and Comberton played for the second time in six days, this match a Cup QF after the previous week’s 20-4 defeat for Melbourn in Division 3.

Both teams showed only a handful of changes from the League encounter – for us Colm was not available, with Roger coming in at #3 and Jamie moving up to #2. Comberton had the same top 3 as the league match, but gave a run out to a pair of teenagers at #4 and #5 in the Cup clash.

The fifth string featured two kids as Melbourn’s Will Bradshaw took on Connor Harmer, the players knowing each other from the Cambs Junior scene. Connor has a few years and a few mph on his shots over Will, and he used this well to pin the Melbourn player deep in the court. Will was left between the devil and the deep blue sea – dropping back wasn’t helping at all as he simply got stuck behind Connor, boasting out of deep corners, but when he did try and push forward Will often found himself rushed for time through the pace of Connor’s hitting. Will did construct some nice rallies to win points, but there weren’t enough of them overall and he lost 6-15, 7-15, 3-15.

The fourth string also featured a Comberton kid, though in this case Isaac Broughton was up against an adult in Melbourn’s Moises Estrelles Navarro. Both had great movement, but Isaac had more control than Moises. That meant that when Isaac went in short this was a potential winner, but when Moises did… not so much. A game plan hatched after a one sided opener by Moises and his teammates to not drop at all, ever, worked to an extent… the extent that Moises was able to stick to it, basically! He did for the first stages of games 2 and 3, the second sitting at 6-7 at one stage and the third at 3-5, but as the game progressed and air in the lungs got less Moises felt he desperately needed a way of shortening rallies, so began to look again for the kills. He was right in a way – this DID bring the rallies to quick conclusions… in Isaac’s favour! Oops. 3-0, with game scores 3-15, 6-15, 5-15.

The third string clash pitted Roger Woodfield against Richard Anthony, who had edged out Jamie 3-2 at Comberton the previous week. Roger presents and entirely different challenge from Jamie, and at the start this worked really well for Melbourn as he got his deadly cut-out drop shots into build a 12-5 opening game lead. This was whittled away by Richard but not enough to deny Roger the opener. The second was closer, the players exchanging points as one went ahead and then the other. Roger had his teeth into things now though, and like a good guard dog he won’t unclamp once his jaws are locked. That saw him grind it out to take a 2-0 lead. The problem was doing that drained the tanks rather, and once Richard had figure out Roger was hanging pretty deep he was in charge. The third saw Richard race into a 10-2 lead, which resulted in a comfortable claim and though Roger was closer in the next two he was never really on terms and eventually fell 15-12, 15-13, 6-15, 7-15, 9-15.

The extended nature of Roger and Richard’s clash meant Jamie Ware and Jez Cotton went on with the match still live. This was not a good match up from Melbourn’s point of view though sa Jex is a decidedly awkward customer to play – he had already beaten both Jan and Colm 3-0 in the league this season, and both of these players feature above Jamie in our ranking order. So a big challenge then… but one Jamie rose to as he played some of his best Squash for a while (that he is playing regularly at the moment surely helps). In face Jamie got himself 13-10 up in the opener… only for Jez to take a run of five straight rallies to turn it around. The second saw Jamie ahead in the early stages, but this time things reversed from mid-game. 2-0. The third was nip-and-tuck until 9-all when Jez won a batch of points to power to four match balls at 14-10. But Jamie was not done, saving one after another to drag himself into a breaker. Could this be the start of something? Er, no, because the effort to get back left nothing to play the next two rallies and Jez came through in the breaker. Game scores were 13-15, 9-15, 14-16, which as stated above is closer than either of the players higher in our order have got to Jez this season.

The final match saw Jan Brynjolffssen (1) take on Alistair Maclean. The pair had meet at top string in the league the week before, a match that Jan felt he had thrown away by letting an opening game he led 7-1 and 12-7 somehow slip away. Lots more Squash was played subsequently, but that rankled after the eventual 3-2 loss. Well, this match was a chance for revenge and after it Alistair is almost certainly the player cursing one that got away. Why? Well, one specific point… but that was match ball at 14-13 in the third after the Comberton player had won the opening two reasonably comfortably. On that match ball Jan hit a loose shot down the middle, and pinned himself to the near wall to try and get out of the way. Potential stroke, but Alistair went for the big finish instead… but put his attempted volley nick into the tin. Four rallies later Jan had the game on a breaker, and this time the match changed in his favour as from there on he improved the accuracy and pace of his hitting and kept Alistair deep enough to stop the wrong-footing happening as frequently. It all added up to a 8-15, 10-15, 17-15, 15-7, 15-10 win for Jan.