Chiefs 5 West Midlands Police 5. Match report by Neil Wheatley.
After a very close match at Chelmsley Wood, it was perhaps inevitable that the reverse fixture would be another nail biter – and so it proved. 42 games this time, after 43 in the away match.
Chiefs’ plan for an early practice session, proved less than effective, as their opponents were 20 minutes late. Dean Opbroek, the first to arrive, found himself opening against Sam Henderson, who took a while to master some tricky serving before romping home 3-0 in his usual style.
Mike Credland commenced the first of his three 5 game sets, with a see-saw match against Paul Ducros and was unlucky to lose the last game 13-11. WMP’s usual No. 1, Dave Ameghino then set about smashing off Neil Wheatley, but having failed miserably in the first two games, changed his tactics and his more selective shot selection thereafter gained him a narrow lead in each of the remaining games.
Opbroek adopted a similar tactic against Mike, opening set 4 with a 2-0 lead, but eventually succumbing to Mike’s clever variations, to bring the match score level.
The all out attacking of Ameghino and Ducros makes them formidable doubles opponents, as they proved with 11-1, 11-5 openers against Sam and Mike, but as in the earlier fixture, they can lose their way. They gifted the third game 11-5, before just managing to clinch the fourth 14-12. Sam then quickly restored parity with a convincing 3-1 defeat of Ameghino, before Ducros proved to quick for Neil, to regain the visitor’s lead.
Ameghino started his set against Mike in the same way as he had done against Neil and he soon again found himself 2-0 behind. The inevitable change of tactics allowed him to level convincingly, but after a brief discussion with Neil, Mike’s Plan B worked a treat, as the 11-3 final game in his favour proved.
Neil worked hard to put Chiefs into the lead for the first time, but Opbroek sneaked the first game 12-10 and romped through the second 11-3. Neil switched tactics to pull a game back, but Obroek responded, and with most of the longer rallies going his way, won the deciding game 11-7. Fortunately, with their young individual title contender playing the final set against Ducros, a draw seemed likely and, although he dropped the first game 7-11, Sam duly obliged, 11-7, 11-6, 11-6.
The result puts Chiefs level with Dinosaurs in second place on 39 points, so their meeting, next Monday, looks likely to be another match to savour at the Theatre of Dreams.
Man of the match – Mike Credland, whose never-say-die approach over 19 of the 42 games played was, once again, a major factor in securing an important two points.