Phoenix vs Mens Feathers, 15 October 2013

Phoenix 4 – 5 Oakbrook

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

Half a team of new faces in the Oakbrook line-up, as we started the season with a match against Phoenix, who have been our closest rivals for some years. Inconsiderately, they’d got themselves promoted to division 2 last year after what I believe was a couple of good wins and a couple of odd league table results and void matches. Happily (for us, if not for them), they’re firmly back in division 3 again this season so we can renew our acquantance.

So we arrived at their place, ignoring the potholed floor and cold-enough-to-turn-your-sweat-to-steam temperature, and focussed instead on the facts that they provide cups of tea, you can see the lines a lot more easily than at ours, and at least it wasn’t the depths of winter yet.

Gavin and Simon started quickly, and whizzed to a 21-17, 13-3 lead before the momentum changed and they found themselves at 21-17, 21-23, 20-20… but they hung on to deny their opponents an impressive comeback victory, taking the final game 22-20. With the number of frame shots, hit-the-net-and-go-over shots, and even one where the feather came off the shuttle to produce an unplayable slowed-down-mid-way smash, Simon was happy to assign the victory to luck more than talent. With fewer frame and net shots, but still with luck firmly on their side, they went on to win both their other games, making similarly hard work of one of them.

Aamir and Naz were finding themselves very much thrown in at the deep end. With neither having played with feathers before, and Naz recently promoted up three teams in one go, they were always fighting against the odds. They did win some respectable rallies but found it hard to string together enough to compete for victory, and ended up 55-126 down overall in their six games. Doubtless this year will be a tough one, but hopefully they will find success in later games.

So the match result relied on our final pair. Glen had kindly driven right across Sheffield and beyond to make it to the match, and then had to nurse a sore ankle as well, but put in a fine performance covering for Aaron G. We’re happy to have borrowed him from Drone this season! He was partnered by Tipue who has been involved in salvaging us a victory against the odds so many times before, that we were confident they’d be ready for the challenge. They looked reasonably comfortable against Phoenix’s third pair, but didn’t quite have enough against their first pair, winning the first and losing the second in straight sets. So it all came down to the final game of the night: 4-4, one to play. We needn’t have worried – either pressure doesn’t affect them, or they hadn’t got a clue what the score was – and they took it with one of Oakbrook’s best scores of the night: 21-15, 21-15.

Thanks to Glen for standing in for us, and to Aamir and Naz for braving their first experience of the feathers league. And of course to the long-standing team core for guiding us to victory. It’s almost always 5-4 or 4-5 against Phoenix, so it was pleasing that this time we got the 5 and they got the 4.

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