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Hampshire vs London 9/6/2013: A Team Report

Inter CountyHampshire 21 - 23 London
Sunday 9th June 2013
The Academy, Basingstoke

Set scores: 8 - 4 - 8 - 3

Once again we were missing a few players, so having only narrowly avoided defeat
to Hants at our place last year it was always likely to be tough. But just as in
the previous game against Berkshire we came away with a win that was very encouraging,
if a bit close.

We got off to a great start, winning the first four frames (including a rare but
helpful forgetting-to-nominate that gave Neil 2 visits in his - but still took
some good play to finish it).

Then Hants got a win on the board when Danny Moffatt broke dry and was dished.
Danny Kelliher hit back with a break and dish in his first frame for London A.
Hants only managed another 2 frames (including another break and dish against Zen)
giving us a nice 8-3 lead. The highlight of the set was the final frame when Stacy
was in a lot of trouble but dug in well and chose the right time to go for it, pulling
off a tricky clearance with 2 shots but balls close to and over a covered pocket.

Hants weren't fazed though and came back at us with a good second set. I managed to
clear up after a dry break, then Jon got unlucky with a time foul - he hadn't heard the
30 seconds called his softly-spoken opponent. That's something some of our team can be
guilty of too and to his credit the timekeeper (James Bolton, an England U21 player in
his A team debut) seemed genuinely gutted (and was very careful to project his voice
when timing from then on). It was worse for Jon though, of course!

In the final frame of that second set, Danny K cleared up at his first visit again,
his opponent having jumped the white off the table from the break but Danny didn't
need the second visit. That frame was all that kept Hants from drawing level at the
halfway stage, and it also meant that Danny K was still on a 100 percent pot rate in the A team.

That frame started a terrific run of 8 in a row which took us to 19 frames before
I threw one their way. Danny K also lost, although he came very close to pulling
off another break and dish. He had one ball that was tricky to move or get on,
and although he kept trying he never quite got position to get to it till his
penultimate ball. Even then it was a very thin cut which made precise cue ball control
almost impossible - he pulled off the difficult pot but left the black difficult
and, finally, he missed a ball.

At 20-13 up, we went off the boil again in the last set.
Alex won his frame but that was the only one of the next 5. It didn't help that someone
forgot he had 2 visits in a decent position (I shan't name names on that one). Joe got
us to 22 with a typically nice finish, but then we lost another 3 in a row. Danny
Kelliher's was a good battle which he lost to a bit of a random slap, although to be fair
it was the kind where your best bet is probably a "calling all pockets", and also
to be fair it was Bolton whose overall play was more than worthy of the 4/4 it gave him
(if he keeps playing like that he shouldn't be losing his A team place any time soon).
But it was a shame for Danny who was probably our best player on the day and deserved
better than 2/4.

Then Zen got break-and-dished, again.

I potted off the break and chose to play to develop things - there was an easy cover-and-snooker
to be played. But my opponent Scott O'Connor (on 3/3 at this stage, he Bolton and Andy Bannan
had all played particularly well for Hants) potted randomly out of the snooker and I found
myself snookered back. It was risky because a miss would give Scott a chance at his difficult
ball, but I couldn't see any alternative to going for a pot out of the snooker myself. Fortunately
it came off and the earlier developing shot left the finish relatively straightforward (if a
bit stressful) for the match.

Alex was the only player to win all 4 but like I said I think the highest quality pool
overall from a London player came (just as it did for Hants) from our debutant. As well
as Danny K, the others who might not have been expecting to play in the As did some
good stuff too. It makes my job difficult, but that makes it easier too.

On a less positive note, there were the same number of withdrawals from the B team as for
the As. So while we managed to get a win, the knock-on effect on the other teams was
probably crucial in their losses. The fact that we've seen good stuff from the new
players in the last couple of matches bodes well for the County... but only if we get
enough turning up to field A B and C teams that are a bit closer to full strength.
Especially in matches like the next one... away to Surrey on July 14th.

Joe 3/4
Neil 2/4
Alex 4/4
Andy 2/4
Danny M 2/4
Tony G 2/4
Danny K 2/4
Jon 0/4
Rupe 3/4
Zen 1/4
Stacy 2/4


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