Oxfordshire Short Mat Bowls
Essex Premier extended their pole position finish in their final Inter County group match with a healthy 25-15 away victory over Oxfordshire, at the Regal Centre.
Essex were without numerous players including manager Adam Sultana, Barry Hedges, Matt Stifford and Mo Binstead but still stuck to the job at hand – to progress to the knockout stages.
Mitchell Young and Matt Dillon stepped up into the singles with Young getting Essex off the mark after a 14-6 win over Gareth Davies. Dillon found himself behind early on and struggled to get back into the game despite his best efforts lost 15-13.
Chris Coates and Peter Fautley continued their superb partnership with a 14-9 victory over the Oxford pairing skipped by AJ Brown. Babs Morokutti and Keith Paxman tried their best to find a way through Geoff Brown and Dave Wiggins but could not find enough, as they lost 15-10 – to split the session 4-4.
In the second session, the Essex triples had a tough time as Shirley Banner, Alan Kay and Tony Ealham fell to a 13-6 defeat. Also Tony Orpin, Paul Read and Phil Banner went behind and to lose by the same scoreline.
The fours had more fortune, as Del Coates, Rachael Cordy, Steve Killington and Craig Burgess held off the Oxford quartet to win 8-5. Debbie Dillion, Linda Lambert, Paul Bax and Anthony Fautley pulled away towards the end of their game to win comfortably 18-5 – as both sides went into the break level at 8-8.
After the break, Young continued his good start, as he won 20-4. Dillon followed up with a 15-10 win over Davies – to claim the bonus points.
Fautley (Senior) and Coates (Junior) showed their promising partnership, as they won 15-6. Morokutti and Paxman struggled once again against Brown and his counterpart, but Paxman saved the bonus points with his last bowl as they lost 16-7 – to split the points and gave Essex a 17-11 lead.
In the final session, Banner, Kay and Ealham found themselves in more trouble – resorting to damage limitation as they lost 21-6. Orpin, Read and Banner put their first game behind them, as they won 13-6 but unfortunately was not enough to recover the bonus point deficit.
The fours carried on where they left off, as Dillon, Lambert, Bax and Fautley (Junior) held off a late attack from the Oxford four as they won 10-8. Coates (Senior), Cordy, Killington and Burgess also maintained their lead despite a last end gasp, with a 10-8 victory and the bonus points to complete the 25-15 win.
Essex will now await their opponents in the knockout stages, after the festive break in search of their first ICC premier title.
Craig Burgess: 7 1/2 / 10
Matt Dillion: 7/10
Debbie Dillion: 8/10
Mitchell Young: 8/10
Peter Fautley: 8/10
Chris Coates: 8/10
Babs Morokutti: 4/10
Keith Paxman: 4/10
Tony Orpin: 5/10
Paul Read: 5 1/2 /10
Phil Banner: 5 1/2 / 10
Shirley Banner: 3 1/2 /10
Alan Kay: 4/10
Tony Ealham: 4/10
Linda Lambert: 7/10
Paul Bax: 7/10
Anthony Fautley: 7/10
Del Coates: 7/10
Rachael Cordy: 6 1/2 /10
Steve Killington: 7/10
Essex Premier are now only seven points behind Norfolk in their ICC group after a great team performance with a 31-9 victory against Oxfordshire at Stonyhills.
After Norfolk got a 30-10 away win at Northampton, Essex still have an uphill struggle with just Northampton to play at home.
Adam Sultana kicked of proceedings with a 14-8 win as he held of England teammate Gareth Davies to get Essex up and running.
Matt Dillon came from 10-4 down early on to hold the draw on the last end but fellow countrymen AJ Brown drew his last bowl as he won 14-11.
Dominic Reed and Babs Morokutti were edged out by Dave Wiggins’s pair as they lost 12-9.
Barry Hedges and Mo Binstead evened the session as they won 18-11 to level the session four apiece.
The second session was also close but Del Coates, Paul Bax and Mitchell Young made sure of their victory against Les Woodwood’s triple as they won 12-7.
In the other triple Shirley Banner, Linda Lambert and Jack Shepard fell to a 14-7 defeat to put Oxford just up overall on the triples bonus points.
Debbie Tomlinson, Heather Amoss, Nigel Reed and Antony Fautley held of their opposition four as they won 10-7.
Ian Arthur, Sammy Lambert, Tony Ealham and Keith Paxman had a tight game as they were one shot up on the final end but managed to hold on for the draw at 6-6. To edge the session 5-3 which put Essex 9-7 up going in to the break.
Essex began to turn the screw in the second half as Sultana did eventually shake off Brown as he won 16-12.
Whereas Dillon made slightly lighter work of his match as he beat Davies 15-9 and secured the singles bonus points.
Reed (Junior) and Morokutti came from a hefty 8-1 deficit after four ends but quickly got it back as they strode to a 19-12 victory.
Binstead and Hedges were held at arm’s length by Wiggins and could not find a way back as they lost narrowly 13-10 but won the pairs bonus points also by eight shots, to put Essex 19-9 in front.
In the final session, Essex kicked on again as Banner, Lambert and Shepard came from 13-11 down last end to take the win 14-13 with a great last end from the triple.
Coates, Bax and Young followed suit as they held off the Oxford triple to win 11-8 and secure the bonus points in the triples by three shots.
Tomlinson, Amoss, Reed (Senior) and Fautley did enough to continue the unbeaten session as they won 9-7.
Lambert, Ealham and Paxman had to regretfully see Ian Arthur pull out due to ill health and was replaced by Brian Daley. That did not faze the quartet who won 11-7 and claimed a clean sweep with the bonus points and a 31-9 victory.
Essex now close the gap on Norfolk as they now look to face Northampton at home in their final group game in a few weeks and also would like to wish a safe and speedy recovery to Ian Arthur.
Adam Sultana 8/10
Dom Reed 7/10
Mo Binstead 7/10
Barry Hedges 7/10
Babs Morokutti 7/10
Matt Dillon 7/10
Del Coates 9/10*
Mitchell Young 8/10
Jack Shepard 7 ½ /10
Linda Lambert 7/10
Paul Bax 7/10
Shirley Banner 7/10
Debbie Tomkinson 7/10
Nigel Reed 7/10
Keith Paxman 7/10
Ian Arthur 7/10
Sammy Lambert 7/10
Tony Ealham 7 ½ /10
Heather Amoss 7/10
Anthony Fautley 8/10
Brian Daley 6 ½ /10