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Melbourn I vs Haileybury I (24th August)

Melbourn won 9-3

The 1sts last home game of the summer saw us playing host to a Haileybury side one spot above in the Herts Division 2 table – they were third to our fourth.

The first match on was the second strings, which pitted Jan Brynjolffssen against Adam Long. Adam is a talented shot maker… but this was his first appearance of the summer and indeed since the pandemic for Haileybury. Not ideal for him on a warm night where the ball was sitting up – leading to him noting remarking to the world at large that “It’s impossible to kill the ball!” That came about a third of the way through the opening game, which Jan lead in the early stages. Adam did find his range towards the end of the game, getting a lead and to 14 first. However Jan saved both game points and then went straight through to take the opener on the breaker. The second saw the home player start in scratchy fashion, falling 9-4 behind, only for Adam to repay the favour with a string of errors that saw Jan win 13 of the next 16 points to go two up. The third was better, with fewer errors from both players. Jan was the one with the lead this time, getting 11-8 up. Adam clawed that back to 13-all, but having saved one game point he wasn’t able to do so at 15-14 as Jan found an attacking cross court backhand to seal a hard fought win 16-14, 15-12, 16-14.

Next on was Matt Sampson against David Gandolfo. Like Adam L, Matt was making his seasonal debut for the summer and though he started well he began to lose his way as David, who often seems to start game 1 slowly, got his scurrying and retrieving game going. In fact from 12-4 up Matt only won on of the next 11 rallies to find himself facing game ball at 13-14 down. This focused Matt’s mind, the game ball was saved and one of his own earned… which he won when a down-the-middle serve hit Dave in the back! It turned out that was the Haileybury player’s chance gone as from then on Matt, despite clearly having to work harder than he would ideally have liked, always had control. Commanding leads were built in games two and three, with holds and then surprise boasts a particularly effect combination, to set up a 16-14, 15-6, 15-9 win.

That meant Melbourn had won before Liam Murphy hit the court to take on Rob Gibson. Liam’s form and playing standard continues to be well above where it was last winter, and once again he was stretching and defending well, using his long frame very effectively. However Rob was a hot potato to deal with, moving very well and picking everything up. The visiting player ate away at Liam’s four point mid-game advantage, but even so it was Liam who got to game point first. This was saved though, the first going into an extended tie-break… that eventually went Rob’s way 18-16. Gutting. The opener escaping seemed to throw Liam for the first half of game two, which this time he trailed in throughout. He found some form in the last knockings though to give hope for the third, particularly when a run of six straight points saw him recover from 6-3 down to lead 9-6. This wasn’t to be the only extended run of points though as from 10-8 to Liam it was Rob’s turn to string 7 on the bounce together, many of them stone dead kills played from seemingly not attacking positions on the court. The final game scores were 16-18, 9-15, 10-15.

Skipper Jan commented “It is great that both Matt and Liam are back in action now. It was a useful run out for all of us… and the win means any lingering threat of relegation has gone. We can use our final match next week as preparation for the next winter season.”