The race for this year’s Tennents Coleraine Pool League Division 1 title may well go to the wire after the big two, Forge A and Sperrin A, played out a draw this week, leaving the Forge A with a slim one point advantage with only four games remaining.
Forge A 3 – 3 Sperrin A
Undoubtedly the biggest match of the season and a game the visitors knew they could not afford to lose.
They didn’t get off to a great start as Marc Hutchinson took out a good finish in the first frame against Lee Caulfield. Caulfield replied in the second after a mistake by Hutchinson. The Sperrin cueist played some great long pots to level.
Caulfield had the first chance in the decider, however, the black always looked like it may cause a problem. So it proved, as Lee attempted to come through a bunch of Hutchinson’s yellows for position, only to snooker himself. Hutchinson still had work to do but laid a couple of good snookers and was able to work his balls into the open, proceeding to put the Forge ahead.
Lee Hull and Raymond Baxter started well in their doubles match with two solid finishes, including a break and finish in the second to go two in front.
They had a chance to make it 3-0 but Baxter missed a tricky black into the bottom pocket, allowing opponents Caulfield and Tommy Morrow a lifeline. The Sperrin duo took this frame and Baxter struggled after his miss on the black in the previous frame.
The match was soon level, however a great double in the decider gave the Forge duo a chance. Hull left Baxter the chance to squeeze their last red past a yellow which hwas partially hanging over the pocket.
The Forge pair could only watch in amazement as the red moved the yellow but failed to drop. The Sperrin levelled up with a routine finish. Morrow and Baxter met again in the singles and Morrow took the first with a good break and finish. Baxter tried to repeat the does in the next but having potted a good double on his last red he lost the cue ball and had very few options on the black.
A difficult shot was attempted and missed, Morrow still had work to do, but the Dervock man rarely misses, and he proceeded to take out a good 8-ball finish from a difficult position.
In the battle of the captains next, Willie Eakin met Raymond Stockman, and it was Eakin who took first bllod with an excellent pot on the black in the first frame after getting a bad contact on his last red. His counterpart looked like he would level, however he played a poor shot on his second last yellow trying to hold the cueball, which found it’s way to the top pocket.
This left Eakin a simple black to level the match.
Stockman had to get this out of his system as he was straight back on in the doubles alongside Billy Moore. They lost the first frame after a good finish from Hutchinson and Neville Smyth. The Sperrin turned it around though taking the next two frames.
The Forge pairing should have levelled however Smyth played a very poor positional shot from the last red, leaving Hutchinson an extremely diffcult black which he could only hang over the pocket. This left Moore and Stockman a simple finish.
With the visitors 3-2 up, it was left to Lee Hull to try and keep the Forge in top spot. His opponent Billy Moore ran out seven yellows in fine style in the opening frame, however left a tricky black, which he could only hang, this allowed Hull a chance and he fired home the finish. Hull broke in the decider but sent the cueball to the pocket. The balls had split well and Moore did not turn down this golden opportunity with an 8-ball clearance.
The decider was understandably tense affair. Moore attempted a snooker but left Hull a half chance, the Forge man made a couple of good pots, but was still left with a difficult positional shot from his last yellow to the black.
Having studied all angles, he played a great shot to use Moore’s red to hold for the black. The black was sunk to keep his side a point clear at the top. Player of the match – Tommy Morrow (Sperrin A)
Forge Bar 4 – 0 Forge B
This derby match was over in no time as Darren Boyd’s side showed his son Jamie’s charges absolutely no mercy. Chris Wade opened up with a quickfire demolition of Scott Clark.
Clark tasted defeat again as, alongside Steven McIlroy, they lost out to Darren Boyd and Alan McBride. McBride made it a double over McIlroy with another straight frames win in the singles. It was left to Darren Boyd to wrap up an easy victory, putting John Huston to be in no time. Player of the match – Alan McBride (Forge Bar)
Bull’s Eye A 4 – 1 Social Club A
The home side solidified third spot in the table with a convincing win over the Social Club, as they continue their unbeaten streak in 2012.
Gary Wallace slogged it out with Daniel McAuley in the opening contest, with the first two frames being shared, it was Wallace who came out on top in the decider. Wallace made it a double as he teamed up with Damien Reid to take the next doubles match and double their lead.
Allen Tosh looked like he would get the Social Club on the score board, but after winning the first, he lost his way and opponent Jimmy Moore reeled off the next two in no time at all.
Paul O’Connor did get the visitors off the mark as he recovered from an early setback to beat Bull’s Eye skipper Reid in a tight battle.
The next doubles match was a very tight affair with neither pairing prepared to give an inch. Moore and Adrian O’Kane started off better for the home side but Tosh and O’Connor matched them all the way with the game going to a deciding fifth frame.
However, it was the Bullseye who pulled through to take the points. Player of the match - Jimmy Moore (Bull’s Eye A )
Railway Arms 7 – 1 Bullseye Old Boys
With the title safely wrapped up, it only remains to be seen if the champions can finish off the campaign in great style, by remaining undefeated.
They showed no mercy in this match as they reeled off the first five games. Scott McClelland was in better form this week, after his awful display the previous week.
McClelland beat Derek Allum in three hard fought frames. Barry McLaughlin and Johnny McDowell proved to be a great pairing as they made no mistake on the way to a 2-0 win over Hubert Smyth and George Canning.
Canning was straight back on again and played well to take the first against Ronnie McMullan. However, Ronnie, back in singles action this week, rallied well to take the next two.
A similar outcome in the next as Hubert Smyth took the first, only for opponent Johnny McDowell to hit back and make it 4-0 on the night.
Stephen Blair and Adam Watt secured the points with another comeback victory over Allum and Howard Doherty.
Watt and Blair went on to win their singles games, looking to complete a whitewash.
However, the Old Boys finally got a chance to cheer as Allum and Smyth beat McClelland and his skipper Arthur McMullan in a sporting finale. Player of the match – Ronnie McMullan (Railway Arms)
Sperrin B 5 – 1 Mary Pats
The visitors were up against it from the very start as they only had four players available on the night.
Drew Hutchinson started off for Mary Pats and he enjoyed a ding dong affair with Peter McMullan. They shared the first two with some good pool on display, this continued in the decider as Hutchinson took out a great 7-ball finish.
The home side levelled in the next though as Paul Brady and Gaz Mullan performed very well to beat Hutchinson and David Rosborough in comfortable fashion.
Brady then met Rosborough in the next singles game, with the Mary Pats man playing well to take the opener.
However, Brady came out firing in the next two and turned the game in his favour.
Ricky McMullan and Paul Henry stepped up for the next, with the opening frame being a slow, tactical battle.
McMullan showed his greater experience as he came through. The second was more straightforward, as McMullan controlled matters, effectively sealing the win for his side, due the the visitors being a man short. Player of the match – Drew Hutchinson (Mary Pats)
Social Club 2 – 6 Bull’s Eye B
The Bull’s Eye B look like they have secured second place in the league with a good victory at the Social Club.
Keith Hunter got them off to a great start as he beat John Sweeney in straight frames. However, Sweeney got his revenge in the next doubles match as he teamed with Lee McIlreavy to beat Hunter and Kenny Watton in three tight frames.
McIlreavy made it two from two as he beat Chris McColgan in a tough battle.
Kenny Watton recovered from the earlier doubles defeat as he took advantage of a poor performance form Dave McMullan to level the match.
The visitors stepped up a gear after this and skipper Stephen Warwick was the catalyst for their surge. First, he teamed with McColgan for acomfortable doubles win over McMullan and Uel Kirkpatrick. Then, he took on John McIlreavy in the singles.
According to the report, there would not be enough room to document how much luck Stephen carried in this encounter.
However, this did not matter to the Bull’s Eye man, as he claimed a 2-0 victory to secure a point for his side.
The points were sealed by the in-form Davy Logue as he recovered from losing the first frame to beat Willy McMullan.
Logue then teamed with Hunter to win the final doubles match also. Player of the match – Stephen Warwick (Bull’s Eye B)
This week’s fixtures
Forge B vs Forge A
Sperrin A vs Bull’s Eye A
Social Club A vs Forge Bar
No Division 2 matches this week
Railway Arms Top 7 Cup
Bull’s Eye A vs Sperrin B (Wednesday night)
Roost Bar Bottom 7 Cup
Forge B vs Mary Pats (Monday night)
Forge Bar vs Social Club (Wednesday night)