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London C 21 Surrey C 23

Inter CountyWell, obviously it would be pushing it to say that I'm happy about yet another loss for the Cs in this tough season, but I do like to find a spark of hope where I can, and there was much to be applauded about this performance. I think it is fair to say we played much better as a team, but the real cause for congratulation rather than commiseration here is that we fielded an almost unrecognisable team. Nearly half the regular starters were absent, so numbers were made up with substitutes, squad reserves, new recruits and a junior, and somehow, this experiment worked as the team gelled surprisingly well, and almost upset the Surrey boys.

The damage was done in the first quarter, which we lost 4-7. We lost the next quarter 5-6 but won the third and fourth both 6-5. Although we kept plugging away, we could never break down that early Surrey lead, and whenever we got to within two of them, they broke away again. Even so, in that last quarter, we really piled on the pressure. They had guaranteed the draw at 22-19 but wins from myself and Chappers pulled us to within a frame of squaring it. Sadly, the rock-solid Paul D narrowly missed out to Surrey's anchorman, B team regular Dan Barthrop. But I think we earned a bit of respect along the way.

Two guys making their debuts excelled. Zen Beechey won his first frame in superb style with a great double on the black, then won his next two and finished 3 from 4. I think he gets man of the match. With 2 out of 2, including a calculated exhibition of shotmaking and positional play, Paul Fitzgibbon was also superb. I can safely say that these two players will be starting when we play Sussex away. They were calm, confident, and real assets to the team. Shot of the day, though, belongs to a hardy veteran - Peter McCafferty, whose pot with position to win a frame was real class.

Zen wasn't the only one with 3/4. Andre played superbly all day (dished up otherwise he would have got 100%) to go 3/4, and Richard Chapman, fresh from a semi-final at the Region 7 tour, also got 3/4 (we have come to expect no less!). Paul Fitzgibbon's 2 from 2 was complemented by 2/4s from Peter Mac, Mo Gulaid, Darren O'Byrne, and Paul Dawson. Manuel Fontes added 1/4, as did Jordan O'Connor on loan from the juniors. Alan Day ended 0/2, Jeremy Ruffer 0/4.

Let's take the positives from this and hit Sussex where it hurts, right down on the south coast! With so many absences, not just this game but across the season, we've lacked stability but I think the arrival in the starting 11 of at least two new faces might shake things up a bit, and hopefully others who have been struggling for form might respond to the challenge.

That's all from me. See you in Brighton!


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