Mens Feathers vs Rawmarsh, 29 October 2013

Oakbrook 2 – 7 Rawmarsh

Gavin B & Simon T | Tipue M A & Glen T | Aamir K & Dave R

One tends to get the feeling when one of the opposition is wearing an England shirt that things are going to be tricky.  And sure enough, Rawmarsh’s first pair made short work of Gavin and Simon at the start of the match: 27-42 in two games.  Tipue and Glen, keen to improve upon their first pair’s lead, went for the sort of improvement usually reserved for pole-vault world records, and went just one point better, 28-42 in two games.  With Aaron away in the north sea, Dave R was kind enough to step in for us, and as usual put in a performance better than he will admit.  Though with he and Aamir both relatively unfamiliar with feather shuttles and not having played together before, against a strong Rawmarsh team, the realistic target was always going to be to aim for 21 points in total across both games, and see if they could sneak a game on the way.  They started well, putting the two regular pairs to shame by not only making their 21 target, but exceeding both other pairs: 33-42 their combined score from the first game.

This spurred Tipue and Glen to greater things.  Which was pretty impressive given by this time Glen’s “my ankle’s a bit sore” had turned into Glen’s “you know what, I wonder if it’s broken”.  Their was visible surprise on the faces of the opposition’s strong first pair, as the Oakbrook couple played some excellent drives and drop-shots to take the first game to 20-20.  Sadly for us, their opposition rode the pressure well and took a narrow 22-24 victory before going on to win the second end, but we had them worried for a while!  Aamir and Dave were then again successful in getting their 21 target, although I have to admit I was mostly off eating biscuits at the time, so didn’t actually see how well they played to get their 22-42.  But I shall assume it was with Dave’s characteristic strong movement and smashing, and Aamir’s deceptive drop shots and dinky net shots.

Rawmarsh are one of three new teams to our third division this year, and we feared that they might all be a cut above the usual division three standard.  So we weren’t hugely surprised by being 0-5 down by nine o’clock.  The onlooking club members had long since stopped cheering for victory – well, I say ‘cheering’, what I mean is ‘looking-occasionally-in-the-direction-of-the-match-courts-with-vague-enthusiasm’ – and were instead wondering whether their team could avoid the whitewash.  The team were wondering the same thing.

Oakbrook’s first pair were on next, against the opposition third pair, so surely if any game was to be won, this was it.  Knowing this, Gavin and Simon went for it, missed it, and crashed to a 12-21 first game defeat.  Gavin made the rather lame suggestion to Simon that they were warmed up now, so they’d do better – and oddly enough it seemed to hold true, for they competed far better in the second game, taking it 25-23, and then going on to win the decider 21-15 after some very close line calls which even the watching opposition had to admit really were all just a centimetre out each time in our favour.

The opposite game, Rawmarsh first pair against Oakbrook third pair, saw Aamir and Dave fall just short of their previous scores, as Rawmarsh’s first pair made sure there wouldn’t be any more 20-all moments by making sure that they didn’t concede 20 points in total.  Gavin and Simon were then back on to try to repeat their winning performance from their previous game, but took ‘repeat’ a bit literally – again crashing to a 14-21 first game thwacking, again hoping they were warmed up better now, and again suddenly improving, this time with a 21-8, 21-18 finish to another tight game.

To round off the evening, Tipue and Glen had the final game.  With Glen by this point ‘tacking’ like a sailboat heading upwind when trying to get around the court with his dodgy ankle, it was impressive that they were able to make a very close game of it.  Solid, consistent rallies forced their opposition into mistakes, but not quite enough in the end, coming out 9-21, 21-19, 16-21 against.  A shame, since with a fully functional pair of lower limbs, Glen would surely have been able to give Tipue stronger assistance in coming out on top.

So overall a few close games, two of which we won, and a few not-so-close games, all of which we lost, but all of which we competed in.  Good experience for us all to play against a team whose deception and shot variety are better than we are used to, in rallies that are significantly more fast-paced.  Many thanks to Dave for subbing in for us, and to Gavin who did a lot of putting-things-away-at-the-end which was very useful as it freed me up to fend off and/or sympathise with the statutory comments of disappointment from opposition players about the colour of the lines.

If the other two new teams to the division are as good as this, it’s going to be our toughest season for a while.

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