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League week 5

Strange to think that we are already past the first third of the season! However, this week gave us a first of the season to cheer about with Adderbury’s Tom Clark’s rink scoring a maximum eight shots on end six of their match at Chadlington.

Elsewhere, the two leaders in Division 1 both came away with maximum points, which should leave little to write about but the absolute superiority of two of Headington’s rink, skipped by Mark Charley and Nick Rae-Welsh, deserves mention. Marks 28 shot winning margin is biggest anywhere in the league this season whilst between them they ‘allowed’ the opposition, from Witney Town, to win on nine of the thirty-six ends!

Carterton’s defeat of West Witney was less spectacular but probably more surprising given the potential strength of the opposition.

Banbury Central looked to be on track for a five – one win at home to Watlington but poor shot choice on Keith McNeil’s rink allowed Gordon Hooker’s men to grab six shots on the final end snatch a win. This involved a measure – to see if the Jack was on the rink or not. String out and it was judged in by millimetres with the rest to the competitors from the other finished rinks watching and making their own judgements! Unfortunately for Sam Watts he came up against an inspired Mike Andrew who snatched victory for his rink on a number of ends.

For Chipping Norton, John Benfield’s rink lead Alan Ley’s by three shots at fifteen ends but dropped 12 shots on the last three ends to lose the game and ensure that Division 2 leaders City and County came away with five points from their match. The other three rinks were as one-sided as the scores suggest.

Dropping five shots on the 17th end cost South Oxford’s Vic de Paauw the game against Russell Edwards men but elsewhere in this game South Oxford proved too strong for Headington who now look to be struggling to stay in division two.

Tom Clark’s hot shot end was one of many good ends for Adderbury in their game at Charlbury, a result that makes them favourites for promotion to division 1, along with City and County.

Had Kevin Taylor’s ring not dropped four shots in the last two ends the match between Thame and Bicester would have finished with only a single shot separating the two teams. In the end, Bicester’s defeat drops them second place behind Chadlington in Division 3.

Peter Madeley and Phil Radbone’s rinks both had winning second halves of their games to give home side Chadlington match points in their game against Banbury Central.

Shiplake’s strong home team defeated Bloxham, whose Tony Gardner managed to beat Jim Bland for their only point. If Shiplake could take the same team away they would surely return to division 2 at the end of the season.

If you look at the Division 4 results for the week you might think that it was a division of two halves given that all matches were won five – one! How wrong you would be! City and County had taken but a single point from their last three matches before they defeated erstwhile leaders Burford five – one; Oxford University Press has not won this season, indeed had taken only three points, before their five – one defeat of high fliers West Oxford!

Woodstock, however, continue their impressive form. Indeed, though David Bye’s rink did win for visitors South Oxford they did so after blowing an impressive eleven shot lead at fourteen ends by dropping seven shots on end fifteen to opponents Dave Francis.

League week 4

Week four of the season and, in some divisions at least, the best continue to dominate.

Certainly, in Division 1, two clubs are starting to move clear of the pack. Both Headington and Carterton appear to have overwhelmed their opponents, both winning six zero. Headington would have expected a close match against West Witney but in the end only David Leighfield’s men were able to get close, and then only by taking three shots on the last two ends to close the gap on Jason King’s men to a single shot at the finish.

Alan Scholan managed something similar for Witney Town in the local clash with Carterton, scoring five on the final end to close Paul Sharman’s men down to a single shot, and Paul Demczak’s game was close for thirteen ends but Gordon Walker’s rink drew well away by the finish.

Witney Mills produced the, slightly, unexpected result of the week defeating Watlington. Once Allan Wiggin’s rink was 14 – 1 up at halfway, overall defeat was a distinct possibility for the visitors as was the prospect of a first win of the season for Mills. Two five shot winning ends for Les Days’ men proving the difference between them and Davis Byers rink to give Mills the win.

Adderbury continue the dominant theme into Division 2, with comfortable six zero win over Chipping Norton, thus moving into second place with a game in hand over leaders City and County, who were themselves pushed hard at Charlbury. The outcome of this match was ultimately decided by the eleven shot win of Chris Lewis’s rink.

The closest match in the league was at Kidlington where the home side just overcame Headington. Three very tight rinks finished in favour of the visitors, Paul McGrath and Russell Edwards swapped the lead throughout and the drawn outcome echoed the game. Mike Peterson and Colin Whitehead’s match was just as tight with Mike just failing to score the two shots he needed on their last end, whilst Steve Gould just held off James Feeley. The last rink was stranger, Phil Arundel held three shots and match points to Headington, as Chris Cox played his last bowl; Chris playing with weight, hit the jack and moved it back to his own team’s wood, three shot and match points to Kidlington, who only won that one rink!

The surprise result in Division 3 came at Hanborough where the home side registered their first win of the season against previously unbeaten Bicester. Three rinks were close throughout the match, but Martin Oliver’s men dominated their rink which meant the match points were always going Hanborough’s way. A tied rink and two where the eventual winner built up good leads only to have to hang onto them over the final ends and the opposition fought back meant the outcome was victory for the home side.

Jim Gow’s sixteen shot win for Banbury Central would usually guarantee them match point. This game proved the exception as Graham Kennedy’s men more than matched this with a nineteen shot win for the visitors. Ed Creed snatched a single shot victory for Central on the final end and try as he might, Tom McKenna was unable to overcome Jim Bland’s ten shot lead at sixteen ends.

The third game in the division was a simpler affair with Chadlington cruising to comfortable victories on three rinks to inflict Bloxham their second successive defeat.

Traffic problems around Oxford meant that some Blackbird Leys players arrived at Woodstock too late to take part in the Division 4 game meaning the visitors competed with a weaken side and, unfortunately, were well defeated.

That win puts Woodstock atop the table but chasers Burford and West Oxford both have a match in hand.  John Hurren, for Burford, registered another win this week by a handsome margin, and he was ably supported by both Bob Parker and Tim Stacey’s rinks.

West Oxford went one better and travelled across Oxford to defeat South Oxford six zero. Comfortable wins on all rinks making their journey worthwhile.

Printable report
Match Results

League Week 3

Warm weather bowling brings out the best in some teams and this week’s fixtures were notable for a number of whitewashes

Headington proved that they will be the side to beat in Division 1 again this year. The demolition of Witney Mills could not have been more complete, Mills winning only 25 ends over the four rinks and only six of those by more than a single shot.

Carterton eased to victory at home to Banbury Central, thanks in no small part to Tim Jupp’s rink scoring fourteen shots without reply in the first half of their game. Nigel Galletly, for Central, and Paul Sharman for Carterton both dominated the second halves of their games to emerge victorious, whilst Mike Andrew’s rink held on for a single shot win having been three shots ahead at sixteen ends.

West Witney just squeezed the match points from their encounter with Watlington, a result that would have been a tie had Chris Gilkes had a full rink. As it was, the shots he had to forfeit cost his team a point that may prove important at the end of the season!

City and County continue to dominate Division 2 though Headington pushed them close, leading over the whole fixture after sixteen ends only to drop a four to Alan Ley and a five to Omar Sharif’s men on the seventeenth end!

Kidlington bounced back from a disappointing start to the season with a good win at Charlbury. Paul McGrath and Chris Cox’s rinks provided the impetus going twenty and fifteen shots up before their opponents replied.

The eleven shots that Keith Mobley’s rink scored over the final five ends swung the game, between South Oxford and Chipping Norton, South’s way.  Narrow wins on two other rinks just made the final points gap bigger a tight game suggested.

Bicester were always ahead of previously undefeated Bloxham in Division 3 and it took big shot gains over the last three ends for the home side to win their two rinks. Bicester’s Kevin Taylor dropped two fours, including one on the first end, but still overwhelmed his opponents, whilst Pete Sansom’s rink won the last six ends of their match.

The second whitewash of the week was at Shiplake, a club able to field a much stronger team at home than away. Thame were unable to provide any threat on three rinks only Bill Giles’ men coming close before losing the last three ends and the game. Barry Lambourne and Dave Webb each restricted the opponents to five winning ends.

Chadlington were not to be outdone and they too whitewashed the opposition. Though they started well, indeed they led three rinks after six ends, Hanborough found their opponents too hot to handle especially Carl Smart’s rink, who were able to let their opponents win the last five ends and still finish victorious by ten shots.

Division 4 was almost a complete whitewash night. Burford showed, once again, that they are more than capable in their first year in the league. This week they visited South Oxford and demolished their hosts. Davis Bye’s rink came closest for the home side, leading after sixteen ends only to drop five shots in the last two. Jim Hurley’s rink starred for Burford winning thirteen ends, but the final two matches were closer, winning fairly equal numbers of ends but all the big shot scores went to Burford.

Surprise of the night was not that Woodstock won, nor that they scored 97 shots doing so, it was that even they cannot remember when, if ever, they won a league match 6-0!  South Oxford were restricted to 21 winning ends, of the 72 played, and they were behind on all rinks throughout the match. Can Woodstock repeat the performance this week, at home to Blackbird Leys?

Could either Blackbird Leys or West Oxford make it three 6-0’s in the division? Well almost! Leys did get a point, by drawing on two rinks, on both of which they were trailing at fifteen ends! John Parker’s rink must have been wondering if it was not going to be their night after all. Ahead 15 – 7 after thirteen ends they allowed Leys’ Dave Buckwell back into the game by losing the remaining five ends, luckily, for them, eachby only a single shots!

League Week 1

Another season is up and running and, despite the weather forecast, all the week’s matches were completed! Long may that continue.

We welcomed Burford Bowls Club to the league for the first time and they opened their account with a good win at home to Woodstock with a starring role for John Hurren’s rink.

The clubs promoted to Division 1 after last season’s final matches started with mixed fortunes. Carterton’s defeat of Watlington, in a match switched to Carterton at Watlington’s request, show that they will be back competing at the top of the division again. Chris Gilkes’ men tried to swing a tight game Watlington’s way scoring a five on the sixteenth end, but this was insufficient to cancel out Paul Sharman’s result for Carterton as his rink won sixteen of their eighteen ends for a one-sided victory and ensured match point to the home side.

Witney Town, the other promoted side, hosted a strong West Witney team in the first of many local derby’s in the Witney area in this season’s top division. Town went behind on all four rinks very early in the game and, ultimately, were unable to get back into the match on any rink, though Alan Scholan’s men tried hard taking eight shots in the final three ends to close the gap to two shots in their game.

The third match saw Witney Mills host last season’s runners up Banbury Central who started as they finished thanks to Nigel Galletly’s rink’s big win.

City and County’s A side, in Division 2 for the first time, showed that they aim to return to the top division as soon as possible by defeating a strong Adderbury side on their opponent’s turf. A big win for Collin Pollard’s rink ensured victory for them though David Sharpe’s men did all they could by overturning a six shot deficit at thirteen ends to runout winners by three shots for the home team.

Chipping Norton surprised newly promoted Headington B in a very close game. The visitor’s won three rinks, two of them on the final end, to go top of the division.

South Oxford, who were unlucky not to be promoted last season, opened their account at relegated Kidlington.  Both won on one rink by sixteen shots, meaning that the match was decided by the other two rinks. Whilst Mike Peterson managed to hang on for a tight win, he was well ahead at thirteen ends, Keith Mobley’s men dominated the second half of their match winning it by eleven shots to give South Oxford the win.

The big win of the week came in the Division 3 match at Bicester where the home side scored 100 shots whilst defeating Shiplake. With two rinks rampant from the start for the home side the visitor’s hopes rested with the other two. Ahead on both after sixteen ends it looked like two points for the visitors. Bicester had other ideas! Paul Hooley made the two he needed on the final end to grab a draw whilst Richard Herbert’s rink went one better, coming from five shots down with two ends to play to grab a seemingly unlikely victory.

Promoted Bloxham were dominant over the second half on three rinks, in a match that could have gone either way at the midpoint. Banbury Central’s only win came as the captains competed against each other, with Mal Leather’s men winning the first six ends to open a twelve shot lead that Tony Gardner’s rink was unable to close.

Thame dominated two rinks in the match at Hanborough and whilst the home side were ahead at seventeen ends on the other two, much more closely fought, rinks Chris Shannon’s men scored the two shots they needed on the last to tie their game.

Burford’s excellent start in the league has already been recorded. Elsewhere in Division 4, the B teams dominated with City and County and South Oxford both winning at home.

Oxford University Press were ahead on three rinks at the halfway point at City and County but failed to capitalise on their advantage whilst Blackbird Leys started poorly on three rinks and were unable to catch their opponents, only James Baldwin’s men getting close but the four they dropped on the fourteenth end finally killed off their hopes.

Headington A win the league cup

League Cup Winners 2018

This year’s League Cup final saw League champions Headington A face Watlington under the floodlights at Kidlington. Headington were looking to collect their fifth League Cup title in a row, whilst their opponents Watlington had reached the final for the first time, after celebrating a solid year in Division 1. With the floodlights warming up and a packed house of support – the stage was all set.

Unfortunately for Watlington, Headington were quickly into their stride and in no mood to let their chance of another League and Cup double slip away. By 6 ends, Headington were already 24 shots up on the game, with Captain Mark Charlett once again leading the charge. Despite Shane Cooper and Steve Gilkes mounting a fight back for Watlington on both their rinks, Headington stretched their lead even further and the game finished with a few ends to spare.

Winning captain Mark Charlett commented, ‘It’s been another great year for the Club, winning the League and League Cup, plus we’ve had some good performances in this year’s National competitions. However, I’d also like to congratulate Watlington for reaching their first ever League Cup final, and who have been get stronger every season!’
Headington A 77; Watlington 38: H Watts 15, S Gilkes 10; M Charlett 29, D Auger 10; N Rae-Welsh 15, S Cooper 10; J King 18, S Watts 8.

League cup semi finals

This year’s League Cup semi-finals at South Oxford saw four teams from Division 1 battle it out for a place in the final. Although the shorter nights meant that the last of the 18 ends finished in the dark, there was a nail-biting climax and the closest contested semi-finals since the competition started.

Furthest from the clubhouse it was Oxford City & County A facing Watlington. Five times finalists City & County were looking to finish their season on a high, after a first ever relegation to Division 2; whilst Watlington were hoping to cap their highest ever finish in the League by reaching their first League Cup final. Watlington started the brighter, and by the half way point were 8 shots up on the game. Despite being behind, City & County managed to dig in, before mounting a challenge over the final 3 ends. Playing the last end in complete darkness, a 3 for Chris Lewis’s rink still wasn’t quite enough for City and County and Watlington triumphed by 4 shots.

In the other semi-final, Division 1 Champions Headington A were up against West Witney, with players from both sides returning from good performances at the National championships. Headington’s captain Mark Charlett was quickest out the blocks, with his rink going into a 10 shot lead after 7 ends. By the half way stage Headington were already 11 shots up on the game, with only Trevor Prew’s four ahead for West Witney. In the second half it was the Witney team who finished the stronger, winning most of the final few ends for a very tense climax. Despite the comeback though, West Witney ran out of ends and Headington held on – victorious by just 2 shots overall.

The final of the League Cup between Watlington and Headington A takes place on Thursday, 6th September, under the floodlights at Kidlington Bowls Club.

Semi-final results:
City & County A 60; Watlington 64: K Croxon 11, C Gilkes 14; A Ley 17, S Gilkes 20; C Pollard 13, S Cooper 18; C Lewis 19, S Watts 12.
West Witney 65; Headington A 67: T Prew 17, H Watts 16; K Alder 15, M Charlett 18; P Skidmore 14, J King 18; A McIntyre 19, I Snowdon 15.

League final week

Is it really fourteen weeks since the season started? It still does not feel as though it is all over until 2019!

My apologies to those players and clubs that might feel hard done by in that I have not included their achievements as well as they thought I should have but I can only detail so much each week. This week, I must concentrate on the games that were important to the promotion and relegation battles, to the exclusion of some others.

We know that Headington are Division 1 champions and that Kidlington are relegated but the second and third places were up for grabs as, more importantly, was the final relegation spot. Headington still had two matches to play, both potentially changing league positions. Their first, postponed due to a clash with a national competition, was against West Witney, who needed to win to challenge Banbury Central for second place. As it transpired the match was a little one sided and West’s challenge was over. The second was against Watlington, who were in danger of relegation! A much closer affair but a similar outcome saw Watlington come away with a single point, won by Sam Watts’ rink that pulled away winning the last six ends. This left the club five points clear of both Witney Mills and City and County and, probably, safe for the season.

Chris Weller’s rink won easily for Witney as did Chris Lewis for City and County, so Witney were still a half point ahead but with both clubs looking to take the match points after the initial big wins.

Alan Wiggin’s men were held at thirteen ends but won six of the last seven to take their game comfortably for Witney whist Omar Shariff’ rink outplayed Central’s Nigel Galletly to take a fourteen shot lead at nine ends. Hard as the opposition tried they were unable to close the gap and City won another point.

Chris Cox took a six shot lead for Kidlington in his match, but Richard Barrett’s men knew how important the match was and fought back only but, ultimately lost by a single shot; For City Colin Pollard’s men led early but dropped a six to Central and were unable to regain the lead, so the season was on the final rinks of the matches!

John Mott’s men led by five for Witney after twelve ends but only won one more end as John Healey’s rink fought back but it was just too big a lead to bridge and Witney Mills ensured their survival as City could not overtake them. Alan Ley and Mick Andrew’s rinks were unaware of this, so their battle still mattered and battle it was! Alan led throughout but was unable to draw away despite going nine shots up after five ends. The Central rink slowly closed the gap and the game was level at seventeen ends, the final end win for Mick finally relegated City and County. Division 2 beware!

As for that division, Carterton were already confirmed as champions and Hanborough to relegation, so the battles were for the final promotion and relegation places. Chipping Norton needed a big win to stay up at Shiplake’s expense. As they were away at relegated Hanborough they had a good chance and they grabbed it with both hands. Percy Hickman’s rink provided the killer blow coming from fifteen eight down with three ends to play and still three shots down starting the final end they won the final end by six shots to take their game and keep Chippy in Division 2 for another season.

The promotion stakes were high, either Witney Town or South Oxford would be promoted. The latter were away at runaway leaders Carterton and did well to take two rinks but those two points meant that Witney only needed to match that result to go up. They were away as well, at Charlbury and, in a bizarre result only possible in bowls they tied one rink and won one but that, by Tim Ludlow’s men, was by a massive twenty-five shots. The two match points that win guaranteed were enough and they play in the top division next year.

Division 4 was an altogether clearer cut affair. West Oxford were heading the promotion race but needed to win and match rivals Chadlington’s result. However, they were hosting a Bloxham team that could still be promoted but only if they took at least five points and South Oxford and Chadlington tied their match. Bloxham arrived ready for battle and did all they could, winning comfortably on three rinks and drawing the last only because John Parker’s men scored six shots on the final end for the home side. The other teams involved played each other knowing that they needed a big win to ensure that they finished second ahead of the losers. John Cope’s men provided South with a chance winning by scoring a six and a five in the last five ends to open a big gap. However, Chadlington’s three other rinks had different ideas, winning comfortable to give their club the five points they needed to finish second and play in Division 3 next year.

Match results
Final league table
Printable report

League week 13

The 2018 season is rapidly approaching its denouement, and with one round of matches left we now know the champions of all four divisions.

Congratulations to:
Headington, Division 1 champions for another season
Carterton, back in the top division next season as champions of Division 2
Adderbury, likewise bouncing back up as champions of Division 3
Bicester are Champions of Division 4

However, the rest of the promotion and relegation scraps are still to be competed for in the final round of matches, other than Division 3 where all fixtures are now complete. Promoted for here is Headington, relegated are City and County along with Blackbird Leys, whose defeat to Adderbury sealed their demise.

This week’s results in Division 1 saw Headington take on Witney Mills and come away with their ninth win in ten matches. The results was never in doubt once Ian Snowden’s rink had roared into a twenty eight shot lead at the halfway point. (A lead that included a hot shot eight on the eighth end!). Only Chris Weller’s rink were able to stop the rot to give Mills a possible much needed point.

This because City and County continued their second half of the season fightback, this time away at Watlington. Winning at Watlington is never easy even if the home side were without some of the back end players. To do so when you need it to have any hope of survival is even more impressive. Three rinks were as comfortable as the scores suggest but the fourth featured an excellent comeback by Omar Sharif’s men who found themselves seven down with three ends to play and won the last three ends to tie the game. That extra half point opens up the possibilities for them next week, when they play Banbury Central, who were themselves easing past West Witney and back into second spot in the league. City can still survive, especially as Watlington, who are four and a half points ahead in the relegation battle, take on Headington in their final fixture. Witney Mills could also be relegated but they have a marginally easier, on paper, final match away at Kidlington.
Central’s victory came late on in the game as even at thirteen ends the overall scores were level with one rink apiece and two very close. However, Will Campion and Tom McKenna’s rinks both won their last five ends to come away with comfortable victories.

Carterton continue to show that they are in a different class to the rest of Division 2. This weeks ‘victims’ were promotion hopefuls Witney Town, Highlight of the match was, for the second time this season, an eight shot hot shot going to a losing rink. This week Paul Demczak won the eight only to lose almost all the remains ends to Paul Sharman’s rink.

Town’s defeat leave us with an intriguing final weeks fixture as they now play South Oxford with the winner being promoted! South were doing what they. Needed to stay in the promotion race defeating Shiplake comfortably. Town won easily on two rinks but were well defeated on a third. The rink of note was that between Keith Mobley and David Webb where Keith’s rink went seven shots ahead only to be hauled back by David’s men to be all square at sixteen ends with Keith winning the final row for the game. Shiplake now have to wait on the Chipping Norton v Hanborough fixture next week as they have finished their season. Chippy’s defeat of Charlbury removed any lingering hopes that the latter may have had of promotion, indeed at first glance they look to be in the relegation battle but their superior shot count means that they will finish above Shiplake unless they lose their final game by sixty-three shots.

Division 4 finally sorted its season out its champion with Bicester defeating Bloxham they now cannot be caught by the chasers even though they have finished their season. The visitors were never in two rinks once the Bicester rinks had taken the lead lead, whilst they did win the other two, they never looked like closing the shot difference. Defeat removes any realistic chance of Bloxham gaining promotion but they have an important role to play as their final match is against West Oxford, who remain in the hunt having only taken half a point away at Chadlington.
The other two clubs that could still be promoted, Chadlington and South Oxford, play each other knowing that, whatever their result, the must better that of West Oxford.

This weeks matches only memorable moments were Chadlington’s Phil Radbone’s four on the final end of his match to tie the scores and restrict West Oxford to a half point; and John Copes’ rink taking four shots on the final end of their match to give the match points to his club and keep them in the promotion race.

Printable report
Match results
League tables

League week 12

From a bowling perspective, I hope that the heat wave continues for a few more weeks, unfortunately my garden thinks otherwise as, I suspect, do many greenkeepers!

As this was, supposed to be, the final round of matches of the season for those in Division 3, it seems appropriate to start there. Leaders Adderbury hosted second place Headington knowing that both were already promoted to Division 2 next season regardless of the outcome. Chris Skidmore provided the home side with the basis of a win with his total domination of his opponents and once Phil Gladden’s rink took a five on the fourteenth end in his game the outcome never looked in doubt. However, Steve Gould pulled much of the deficit back and the result could still have been determined by the last game. This was a real struggle with few ends scoring more than a single shot and, appropriately, Cliff Hall’s rink taking one shot on the final end to tie the game. Honours to Adderbury but I suspect neither team was really bothered!

Banbury Central’s match was a very different proposition. Visitors, City and County, were already relegated but Central needed a big win if they were to have any chance of staying up at Blackbird Leys expense. Big win they achieved, never realistically looking like losing in three games and though trailing by seven shots after nine ends, Keith William’s men took a six on the tenth end and dominated the next five ends to complete the club’s whitewash.

Whilst Central were doing all they could, Blackbird Leys had the chance to guarantee their own survival at Thame. Unfortunately, they were unable to match their opposition on two rinks and only managed to tie a third. Highlight of the match was seven shot end for Alex Fleming’s rink on the sixth end of their match. Unfortunately, it was insufficient as Robin Jenner’s men recovered from the trauma to win the next five ends by nine shots and ensure their own win.

Division 1 could have been all over with two weeks to spare. Headington still look champions in waiting; especially with the second and third place teams playing each other next week; having beaten Banbury Central in a re-arranged fixture on Tuesday and following that with an expected whitewash of already relegated Kidlington. The Central match could have been so different! The home side were without four of their usual players, so they fielded a rink from their B team skipped by the enigma of this season that is Tom McKenna. This week Tom was on his best from and led his rink to a magnificent twelve shot win over Ian Henwood’s men. Whilst Central lost on two rinks their total losses balanced Tom’s win so the final rink, of Will Campion against Jason King, determined the outcome of the match. Will led by two shots at sixteen ends, Jason pulled a shot back on the seventeenth leaving Central holding the match points with one end to play. All or nothing on the last end which went to Headington by two shots, enough to win their game and take the match overall by that single shot! Whew!!

As important was City and County’s do or die game at home to Witney Mills. Having looked relegation certainties until a few weeks ago, City and County have pulled a lot back recently but knew that they need a big win as the only club that could be relegated instead of them were the visitors! On the night, they rose to the occasion winning one three rinks and drawing the fourth. It was an evening where keeping big losses off the cards mattered as City and County failed to win more than half the ends in any match yet still won most of them. Over the four games they took six ends with more than a three shot margin whilst Witney managed only one and these big scoring ends swung the game their way, no more so than Omar Sharif’s rink that, with a one shot lead at twelve ends, lost four of the last six ends but still triumph as the two they won scored nine shots between them.

A big win for Chris Gilkes ensured the match points for Watlington although it could have been more had Andy McIntyre despaired at five shots down with two ends to play in his game against Shane Cooper. His men rallied well to take a four and a three on the last two ends to snatch the game and the draw for West Witney.

In similar fashion to Division 1, Division 2 looked all over a while ago but whilst Carterton are indeed champions and Hanborough are already relegated, the last two important spots are still to play for.

Carterton’s whitewash of Chipping Norton not only cemented their first spot but also provided Shiplake with a chance of survival.

Shiplake were at home to promotion chasing Witney Town knowing that, with just one more match remaining after this, they needed a big win if they were to stay in the division at Chipping Norton’s expense. Big win they got, fielding a very strong side they won comfortably on all rinks, though it required a six on the fourteenth end from Barry Lambourne’s men to achieve their win. They now travel to South Oxford knowing that another win will keep them up.

Chippy still have two games to play, the second at already relegated Hanborough. However, they host Charlbury next week knowing that they must better Shiplake’s result if they are to have a chance of playing in this division next year.

Charlbury played steadily throughout their game at home to Hanborough, outplaying their opponents on all rinks in a match unusual only in that there was nothing of note to comment on!

Division 4 continues its merry, complex season. Playing their penultimate match, Bicester had the chance to guarantee their promotion playing one of two teams who could still overtake them. As it was, they won two rinks, with Phil Bannister’s rink taking a ten shot lead after eight ends and Martin Graves dominating the second half of his game. Chadlington were not to be outdone, winning the other two and, had Carl Smart not dropped a four on the seventeenth end of his game they would have taken the match points as well.

West Oxford needed to better Bicester’s score if they were to remain in the hunt for the title. They achieved this with easy wins on three rinks, unfortunately, Gary Richardson’s rink were unable to press home their advantage at sixteen ends in a close game as Dave Barlow closed out for Oxford University Press’s only win of the night.

The final match of the night saw South Oxford reduce their chance of promotion as they lost to Woodstock. The highlight was Don Portman’s rink coming from eight shots down with three ends to play to snatch an unlikely win by scoring two threes and a four on the final three ends.

League week 11

As the summer league season draws to a close, promotion and relegation issues start to dominate club captains and players thoughts about the few weeks left. With the new schedule for Division 3 these are issues that really dominated this week’s matches as next week’s fixtures are their last of the year. Adderbury travelled to bottom club City and County knowing that a victory would ensure their being crowned champions whilst relegating their opponents. They were dominant almost from the start of the match on all four rinks, only Gary Gray’s rink offering real opposition and then only after they trailed Phil Gladden by eight shots. Winning the next seven ends took them into a short term lead but Phil’s men re-found their initial dominance to win three of the last four ends and take the point. Adderbury are champions and City and County will play in Division 4 next season.

Elsewhere in the division Headington outplayed Blackbird Leys on a green that the visitors never really mastered, only James Baldwin’s rink providing some real opposition, leading at sixteen ends only to drop the last two and lose the match.

Banbury Central staved off relegation for one more week by beating Thame and they host City and County in their final fixture. However, the battle to avoid the final relegation place favours Blackbird Leys as they have two matches left to play. In this week’s fixture, Central’s win was thanks in no small part to Jim Pickering’s rink which fought back from eight shots down at halfway to be only a single shot down going into the last end. Although they lost that end, their two shot margin was small enough that Central remained ahead on overall shot count and thus won the match points.

Division 2
saw leaders Carterton almost clinch the title with a dominant victory at Hanborough. The defeat pushed the losers into last place as Chipping Norton hosted, and surprisingly defeated, long distance travellers Shiplake. Unfortunately for Hanborough Carterton started well on all four rinks and never looked like being caught on any of them.

Shiplake were only ever in contention on one rink. Graham Kennedy was on level terms at thirteen ends, after which Tim Sealey’s men pulled away to win comfortably for Chipping Norton.
Witney Town and South Oxford are locked in a battle for the second promotion place. They met this week and the honours went to Witney, despite John Hall’s efforts for the Oxford side. Paul Demczak’s men went behind at the start of their match and stayed behind until the eleventh end, after which they steadily pulled away from their opponents to guarantee the points Witney needed to pull clear of the rivals into second place in the division.
Division 4 continues its turbulent way. Unlike the other divisions, here any two of four teams could still be promoted.
Bicester remain at the top of the league but erstwhile second place South Oxford dropped to fourth place as they had no fixture and the sides just below them both won.

Oxford University Press were unable to maintain their form of the previous weeks going down to Bicester. Whilst their three losing rinks were all well beaten from the start, Paul Tweddle salvaged some pride even though his rink won fewer than half the ends played. Scoring fives and sixes on ends can be a great help! For Bicester, Tony King’s rink were the pick taking the first eight ends to go fifteen shots up.

Twelve shots in three ends in the middle of the evening swung the result to Chris Sherwood’s rink for West Oxford playing at Woodstock. While Alan Blackburn snatched his win on the final end having been four behind with four to play. Three single shot ends left Brian Clarke leading for Woodstock with one end to play which Alan’s men won by two to grab the point for West Oxford.

Chadlington’s defeat of Bloxham was thanks to Carl Smart’s eighteen shot margin in a game where his opposition were never allowed to play, winning only six ends all game, and five of those by a single shot.

Finally, this week, Division 1! Still leaders Headington had no game for the third week – this time it was their bye week! It has allowed their rivals to close the gap to something a little more respectable. Banbury Central are their nearest competition having beaten Watlington on the own turf. A sixteen shot win for Mick Andrew’s rink put the icing on Central cake but the performance of the match was by Nigel Galletly’s triple which restricted Chris Gilkes rink to six winning ends, none by more than two shots, to win even losing twenty-five percent of their score for being a man short.

The Witney derby took place this week when Witney Mills were the ‘home’ team. Fittingly, each club won on two rinks but Paul Skidmore’s rink restricted Les Days to seven shots all match, winning by thirteen shots, which were enough to win the match points for West Witney.

The last match is the most relevant in the league this week as it involves the two teams that have battled relegation since the season began. Kidlington travelled a short distance to City and County knowing that they needed all six points available to have any chance of remaining in the division next season. Their host knew that they required a win to have any realistic chance of surviving as well. John Hardies big win shaded the match for Kidlington and leaves City and County with vital matches against Witney Mills and Watlington in the next two weeks.

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