GOLF - LEAGUE NEWS: County go with blend of youth and experience

IMPRESSIVE - Drew Russell did well for Northampton
IMPRESSIVE - Drew Russell did well for Northampton

Northants ladies will rely on a blend of youth and experience when they compete in County Week at Harborne Golf Club, Birmingham from June 22-26.

With five matches against Warwickshire, Hereford & Worcester, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire, the county will be looking to represent Midland South at the National Finals in September.

Wellingborough members form the backbone of the side for the five-day event as Mary MacLaren and Gill Snelson, who won the County Ladies Fourball crown with Miriam Johnson this month, join club-mates Carol Gibbs and Ellie Darnell.

Former Wellingborough members Roseanne Youngman (Kingsthorpe) and Rebecca Gee (Overstone) are also involved, alongside Northampton duo Alison Irvine and Hannah Mulliner.

Alex Banham (Elton Furze) and the Northants County trio of Gillian Curley, Rachel Smith and Charlotte Taylor complete the county squad.

Handicap League

Group A

Collingtree Park moved to within touching distance of the semi-finals after recording their sixth victory in six outings this season with an exciting 13-12 win at Cherwell Edge.

The match got off to a remarkable start as home duo Andrew Brown and Graham Collett took the opening tie by nine holes, only for Collingtree’s Tony Greenhill and Conor Rosling to go one better in the next game.

The remaining four games were a lot tighter as Cherwell clinched games three and four by two and one hole margins, before Michael Knight and Sam Patel replied with a slender win for the visitors.

Needing a two-hole success in the final tie to maintain their perfect record, Collingtree’s Alistair Biggin and David Messom came up trumps.

Group B

Leaders Farthingstone became the first team to win two away games as they recorded a dominant 19-0 success at Delapre, who they beat 10-4 at home two days earlier.

Farthingstone were always in control of the away contest once Adam Smith and Liam Saunders strolled to an eight-hole win in the second tie.

Smith was also in great form in the reverse fixture as he combined with Jonathan Redley to secure a seven-hole win against Alan Picketts and Michael Gillett.

There was little to choose between the two sides in the other matches as Brian Seal and Kevin Crow (three holes) and Daniel Lee and Gerry Gait (one hole) secured the away wins.

Hellidon Lakes remain Farthingstone’s closest challenger as they made it two wins out of two this year with a 15-0 home whitewash of Staverton.

All the damage was done in the second and third games as Richard Barnes and Clive Jennings won by seven holes, while Darren Welsh and Richard French triumphed by six.

Group C

Cold Ashby did just enough to snatch a dramatic 8-7 home victory over reigning champions Wellingborough as Stephen Bull and Keith White clinched the last tie by a couple of holes.

In a match which swung one way and then back the other way, Tom Cheevers and Steve Crawley were Wellingborough’s biggest winners with a four-hole success in game one.

Wellingborough came into the match in decent spirits despite seeing their 11-
match winning streak come to an end two days earlier with an 8-8 draw at Peterborough Milton

In another thrilling topsy turvy away clash, Martyn Annis and Steven Hammond (five holes) looked to have given Wellingborough the win, only for Milton’s Paul Pateman and Mark Lamb to snatch a draw by taking the final tie by two holes.

Group D

Kettering never fully recorded from a heavy defeat in the opening tie at Northampton as the home side prevailed by the scoreline 12-9.

Steve Eborall and Drew Russell’s eight-hole success helped keep Northampton’s hopes of topping the group alive as they host leaders Northants County this weekend.

At the other end of the standings, Priors Hall recorded their first victory this season at the fifth time of asking as they defeated Overstone 14-3 at home.

Despite suffering a defeat and a draw in their two previous home outings, the Corby club rarely looked in danger of missing out again after taking the opening two games by three-hole margins.

Overstone replied through Pete Softley and Lee Cross (three holes) and a half from Matt Wake and Dave Watson, but Priors clinched the final two matches by three and five holes respectively.

Scratch League

Division One

Northants County began the defence of their title with a battling 4½-3½ home victory over Wellingborough.

With all of the eight games reaching the 17th green at least, County made a bright start as Harry Larkins and Fergus Robinson bagged the first two points.

Paul Saunders (3&1) got the visitors on the scoreboard, but County’s Martin Conley restored the home advantage by taking the next by the same scoreline, only for Chris Howes to cut the deficit again.

Tom Bullough guaranteed at least a home draw by winning game six and, although Jon Harris took the next match for Wellingborough, Sam Henfrey secured a half against Jamie Milligan to seal the home victory.

Division Two

Rushden made a disappointing start to the new season as they went down 5½-2½ at home to Cold Ashby, before losing by the same scoreline at Overstone the following day.

Everything looked to be going well for Rushden early on against Ashby on Friday evening as Rob Price edged the opening tie, the second match was halved, while Mark Brown won game three with a couple of holes to spare.

The Rushden wheels fell off in dramatic circumstances, however, as the visitors took games four and five by the scorelines 8&7 and 7&6 respectively, before clinching the other three points.

Rushden’s hopes of a positive response 24 hours were quickly dashed as Overstone took the first three points through Peter Goddard, David Smith and Daniel Smith.

Although Jack Coleman got the visitors on the scoreboard, county junior champion Luke Barney moved Overstone closer to victory as he halved a thrilling contest with Steve Alexander.

Richard Dalton made sure of the home win, James Barker added another Overstone point, before Simon Cox collected a consolation for the away side.

Division Three

A strong middle order proved vital for Farthingstone in their home contest with Oundle as they opened their campaign with a 6-2 victory.

Although Oundle’s Denis Price took the first tie 4&3 and Jack Ireson recorded a brilliant two-hole success against former county champion Paul Hodgkiss in the last game, the hosts were otherwise in control.

Ian Bell (8&6), Adam Smith (4&2), Richard Marsh (4&3), Bradley Wardell (6&4) and Sam Bird (4&3) confirmed the home win with convincing performances.

Farthingstone, who have lost just once on their own patch in their last 11 home Scratch League outings, also took game seven as Ian Donald overcame David Young on the 18th hole.