BASINGSTOKE’S Aldworth Table Tennis Club maintained top spot in British Table Tennis League Division Four, after two more wins in their latest outing in the competition.
This puts them in a great position going into the final round of games in London on March 15 and 16, as they look to secure promotion to Division Three.
For round three of the competition, Aldworth’s hopes were dealt a blow when they lost top player Daniel McTiernan to injury.
Captain Patrick Garlick stepped in at number four, which meant Ed Slot, Zac Dowling and Steve Murgatroyd all moved up a place in the team.
The Basingstoke team’s first game was against local rivals Kingfisher from Reading.
Slot took two wins for Aldworth against Kingfisher’s Andy Misseldine and former Sussex and Glamorgan cricketer Keith Newell.
Zac Dowling put on a terrific display to defeat Misseldine and Reading’s third player Sanga Quamina.
Steve Murgatroyd took the decisive win, beating Kingfisher number four Eric Van Looy 3-2, which took the pressure off the remaining games which all went the way of Kingfisher, but the Basingstoke side ran out 5-3 winners.
Aldworth’s second match of the day was against Rowhedge from Colchester.
Dowling struggled in the opening game against Rowhedge’s top player Rik James and was defeated in three sets, but Slot levelled the match at 1-1 with a solid win over the Essex side’s number two, James Denyer.
Things started to look a bit shaky as Garlick lost his match to Greg Green and, with Aldworth 2-1 down and needing to win four of the remaining five matches, they faced an uphill battle.
The pressure was also on them, as title rivals Horsham had won both of their games to take over pole position.
Murgatroyd steadied the ship with a comfortable win against Rowhedge’s number four Gary Cattermole to tie the match, before Slot played another superb attacking game to defeat James 3-0.
The Basingstoke side extended their lead to 4-2, after Dowling came out on top in a tight four-set battle with Green.
Murgatroyd slipped to defeat so everything was riding on the final game between team captain Garlick and Cattermole.
This was a rollercoaster game, as Garlick twice went a set up, only to be pegged back.
The match was decided with a fifth and final set, and with the scores locked at 9-9, the Aldworth captain came up with two unreturned serves to seal the most dramatic of victories. This ensured Aldworth would go into the final weekend top of the table.
After the match, Garlick said: “It was a fantastic team performance all round this weekend.
“Obviously losing your best player is a big blow, but the whole team rallied to get the two wins and we’re very happy to now be in with a real shot at the title.
“I think special praise has to go to Ed Slot for his four wins without dropping a set after being moved up to number one. Also young Zac Dowling for three wins at number two.”