Mixed team eye maximum haul for boost in promotion race
The Stamford-area Federation bowlers representing Northants A have given themselves a fighting chance of reaching the finals of the indoor inter-county Derbyshire Trophy championship for the first time since 2006.
They beat Norfolk, one of their closest rivals, 105-70 at Stamford IBC to pick up 12 vital points which takes them 10 clear of league leaders Lincolnshire whom they beat 11-3 last week.
However, Lincs have a superior shots difference and need just 10 of the 14 points at stake next weekend when they host Norfolk at Lincoln IBC.
An added twist to the plot is that several of their leading contenders will be missing, already committed to the EIBA code's semi-final of the mixed Egham Trophy against Norwich IBC at Peterborough.
Northants A captain James Harford said: "We played well to win on three out of four rinks and take 12 points from a strong Norfolk side.
“We have 52 points which we would have taken at the start of the campaign. We have done all we can but it is out of our hands now. We can only hope the result at Lincoln goes our way."
After the initial exchanges, Northants, who included all but one in their side who play their indoor competitions at Stamford - Nick Wilkie (Spalding) was the only exception - took control as Norfolk players, more used to slower surfaces, took more time to adapt.
Particularly pleasing in the two-bowl triples format over 25 ends was the new combination of experienced singles player Martyn Dolby leading on a rink skipped by talented left-hander Tristan Morton with Tony Scarr playing a key supporting role, tidying up heads and drawing strategic bowls as required.
They allowed Danny Mills' trio few opportunities and, after surging into a 17-7 lead with an excellent four count, eventually ran out 29-13 winners.
On the adjoining rink, the tried and tested combination of Paul Dalliday, Harford and Simon Law were having similar success against Sam King, son of former world singles champion Mervyn. Ten shots in eight ends took them into a 24-9 lead from which they were never threatened.
When Adam Warrington switched roles with Roger Martin from lead to skip on the 14th end, as Federation roles allow, they trailed 12-15 but the transition - with Mick Humphreys solid at number two - quickly worked and they picked up seven shots in five ends. And with seven more in the last four they claimed more vital points in a 26-22 victory.
Northants' only disappointment was 25-17 defeat of the experienced Wilkie, Trevor Collins and Jeff Newson whom, despite shuffling roles at 15 ends, couldn't cope with a late surge of 12 shots in the last eight ends by Danny Cawthorne's young trio after leading 15-13.
Results (Northants A names only): Derbyshire Trophy (at Stamford): Northants A 105 (12pts) Norfolk 70 (2). A Warrington,M Humphreys, Roger Martin won 26-22; N Wilkie, T Collins, J Newson lost 17-25; P Dalliday, J Harford, S Law win 33-10; M Dolby, T Scarr, T Morton won 29-13.
End by end: 19-18 (5 ends), 36-34 (10), 61-43 (15), 83-52 (20), 105- 70 (25).
Maximum points at home to title-chasing Scunthorpe on Sunday (1.10pm start) will catapult Stamford's mixed team right back into the Division Two promotion race.
They conceded 18 points at Scunthorpe earlier in the season but the home surface is a major advantage and Christine Ford's team, after a slow start to the season, will be looking to maximise their opportunities.
Lincoln B currently head the table with 79 points from eight matches, followed by Scunthorpe 70 (six), Dunholme 69 (six) and Stamford 66 (seven).
There will be re-shuffling of the Lincs Mixed League next season with the formation of a second Skegness side.
Stamford mixed: M King, J Hare, S Suffling, D King; J Brennan, C Warters, J Little, C Warters; I Reading, T Mackie, D Mackie, K Rippin; Mick Smith, R March, S Moir, A McNaughton; E Wallace, M Wallace, A March, C Ford.
Stamford seniors continue their pursuit of the Lincs Over 60 League Division Two championship with a visit to bottom of the table Lincoln C on Thursday.
Team: A Romaine, S Travis, D Bruce, C Watson; T Barwell, T Weaver, R Montgomery, T Christie; D Howarth, D Henshaw, K Rippin, J Little; D Heffernan, D Miller, T Mackie, M Owens; R Blake, J Bourne,D King, K Vinter.
Before he died aged 96 in November, Stamford IBC's oldest member Arthur Chapman made a pledge to his family that he wanted to sponsor the club's forthcoming Junior Open.
His wishes will be granted on Sunday, March 10, when 30 youngsters - all 17 years and under and from as far afield as Essex, Suffolk, Leicester and Norfolk, compete for the prestigious title.
The former gamekeeper and paratrooper played and followed the game closely and was delighted he was able to encourage his great grandchildren to participate in a sport which gave him great companionship in his later years.
Among those also competing are Stamford's Owen Aspinall, Nicholas Lees, Ollie Jeapes and Emilie Robertson, together with England Under 25 triallists Danielle Wild (Spalding) and Nicole Mosley (LynnSport).
Matches of eight ends duration start at 10am with two points for a win and one for a draw. Winners and runners-up in each of two sections compete in the knock-out semi-finals.
It's crunch time for the Stamford Men's A team competing in the first division of the Lincolnshire League - a title they won two years ago and are aiming to regain at the expense of the current holders Lincoln IBC.
They head to the city for their final game of the season on Saturday (March 2) with what looks on paper to be an unassailable 36-point lead over their rivals.
But defeat could make it extremely fragile, especially as Lincoln have two games in hand - albeit away to Sleaford and Boston - and exactly those precious points at stake.
Stamford captain Paul Bailey has the opportunity to draft in a handful of experienced players waiting on the sidelines but in the sporting tradition of the club has decided to maintain faith in those who have been available with their support throughout the season.
However, it will mean a couple of tweaks with the return of Neil Wright and Peter Edwards both with experience of the Lincoln surface.
Stamford A: Richard Allam, Mick Linnell, Trevor Collins, Jon Earl; Mick Humphreys, Neil Wright, Adam Warrington, Paul Bailey; Mike Ramsden, Jay Travis-Jenner, John Holroyd, Jeff Newson; Wayne Aspinall, Chris Ballard, Bob Warters, Roger Martin; Dave Hudson, Mal Smith, Peter Edwards, Martyn Dolby. Res: Owen Aspinall, Tony Barwell.
The final of the Northants Bowling Federation's Blue Riband event - the four-bowl singles - will be between players who all play their indoor competitions on the Stamford IBC surface.
This was confirmed when Martyn Dolby beat new England Under 25 international Stephen Harris in a high quality match to earn a semi-final tie with former England outdoor triples champion James Harford.
In the other semi-final Paul Dalliday, who only converted fully from carpet bowls a couple of season ago and who beat Mike Ramsden 21-11, will play Richard Allam, a 21-20 victor over Tony Barwell.
The veteran singles semi-final matches two former winners Bob Warters against Martyn Dolby and Dick Noble, the county president, against Alan Romaine.
In the women's four-bowl singles final Louise Harris - a 21-15 winner at Peterborough against Sheila Craig - plays pairs partner Helen Holroyd. In the seniors, Chris Ford, who beat Joan Robinson 21-5, plays Craig.
The county finals will be at Stamford on March 17
With a nine-shot defeat of neighbours Grantham, Stamford Men's A team extended their lead over Lincoln at the top of the First Division of the Lincolnshire League to 36 points.
But their hopes of regaining the title still remain in the balance and in their own hands with next Saturday's visit to Lincoln who still have two games in hand with a possible 54 points still at stake.
Victory at Lincoln will give Stamford the title, last won in 2017, but defeat could still open the door for Lincoln to retain the championship if they can beat Sleaford and Boston A away in their last two games with a minimum points concession.
Against Grantham, Stamford knew they were always in for a tough battle and so it proved with little to choose between the teams in the closing stages as Grantham threatened to snatch vital points from Stamford's championship chase.
But then captain Paul Bailey, with ten year old Owen Aspinall in his rink, picked up a handy five count on the 17th end to tie his match and added three more shots to win 23-21. Next door, Roger Martin's rink dropped seven shots in three ends but recovered to win 24-20.
Martyn Dolby's four looked like they might lose a battle they had controlled, albeit narrowly, but with his last bowl of the match and with two points looking likely to slip away, he promoted his own bowl to snatch a 16-14 victory.
However, among all the worried faces, Stamford skip Jeff Newson maintained calm to lead his four of Mike Ramsden, Jay Travis-Jenner and late replacement John Holroyd to take the rink honours, running out 23-12 winners over veteran Joe Lewis.
Results (Stamford names only): Lincolnshire Men's First Division: Stamford A 106 (6 pts) Grantham 97 (2). D Hudson,Mal Smith, B Warters, M Dolby won 16-14; M Ramsden, J Travis-Jenner, J Holroyd, J Newson won 23-12; R Allam, M Linnell, T Collins, J Earl lost 20-30; A Romaine, O Aspiinall, A Warrington, P Bailey won 23-21; W Aspinall, C Ballard, M Humphreys, Roger Martin won 24-20.
The Stamford quartet of Malcolm Smith, Cliff Watson, Peter Edwards and Keith Rippin were beaten 22-12 by club colleagues Malcolm Cullingworth, Trevor Collins, Tony Scarr and Jeff Newson in the Area 5 semi-final of the Over 60s Fours.
The Newson rink will play one skipped by Leicester's Les Jinks in the area final for a place in the national finals in Nottingham in April
Smith, who partners Martyn Dolby in the senior pairs, will face former England international Bill Hobart (Barwell) and his partner. Both area finals will be played at neutral venues.
Northants Women's Bowling Federation fixture secretary Norma Squires is seeking the names of affiliated bowlers to put their names forward for either the Donald Steward Trophy or Jubilee Silver Vase county first and second teams.
The Donald Steward matches are due to be staged at Ketton while the Silver Vase will again be played at City of Peterborough. Respective captains are Joan Robinson and Ann Cooper.
Norma reminds players that they need not necessarily have county experience but are willing to make themselves available for a series of midweek matches against North Essex, Norfolk, North Cambs, Suffolk and Hunts.
The matches played simultaneously are: June 12 home to North Essex; June 19 home to Norfolk; June 26 home to North Cambs; July 3 away to Suffolk; July 10 away to Hunts.
Notification of availability should be made by March 30 to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bowlers are advised that with contractors commencing decoration of the exterior eastern end of the indoor club from March 4-8, Stamford Bridge Club has been given permission to use Stamford IBC car park for overspill.