Squash firsts’ fightback not enough against superb Sheffield

A poor start cost the men’s squash firsts in their match against the University of Sheffield

Photograph by Jason Lozier

Photograph by Jason Lozier

UNIVERSITY OF YORK FIRSTS 2
UNIVERSITY OF SHEFFIELD FIRSTS 3

BUCS League 2B – Wednesday 2nd December

A slow start meant that York men’s squash team lost 3-2 to the University of Sheffield in the sports centre this Wednesday. York’s Paul Atkinson and Calum Fraser were both victorious but three away victories in the first three matches meant that the fixture had already been secured by Sheffield .

Team Captain Fraser described the fixture as a “hard-fought” and “even” encounter. He added: “We were missing our usual number two player and a two of our players were ill going into their matches,” yet he was still impressed by his team’s “decent performance”. Both of these understrength players, Matt Johnson and Matt Brennan, were to lose their matches early in the fixture – giving Sheffield a 2-0 lead and York a mountain to climb.

Yet York did not give up easily and a number of competitive match-ups followed. Atkinson began to turn things around for the home side, winning his first game against Toby Cockill 12-10 after successfully defending two match points at 10-8. He won his second game 11-9 – keeping the fixture very much alive.

Mens Squash, 25-02-09, Photo: Justyn Hardcastle

Paul Atkinson was successful in his epic match against Toby Cockill, winning 12-10, 11-19, 5-11, 8-11, 11-6. Photograph Justyn Hardcastle.

On the adjacent court York’s Tom Lee was having difficulties with Sheffield Captain Paul Snape. He lost a tight first game 13-11 and then found himself 10-5 behind in the second. The fixture seemed to be slipping away from York but Lee, showing excellent spirit and playing vintage squash, won the next seven points to claim the game. It looked like a key moment for York.

However it was not to be, as Snape stepped up a gear to win the next two games 11-4, 11-6 and seal the overall victory for Sheffield. Atkinson’s match was taken to five games, after a recovery from Cockill, but the York number two upped his game in the fifth to give his team their first point of the contest.

Calum Fraser then played Sam Watts in the final match up which, despite being a dead rubber, proved to be the longest and most contested match of the fixture. Fraser battled through a close opening game – defending game ball and winning 13-11 – but then lost the next two. The third in particular was extremely competitive with long rallies, contested umpiring decisions and a range of clever shots from both players. Fraser began to get the better of his opponent, winning the fourth and then storming to a 10-4 lead in the fifth. He lost the first three game balls but on the fourth attempt, as his opponent hit an easy shot into the tin, he sealed his match.

Mens' Squash - 2.12.09 - Photo: Jason Lozier

York’s late flourish in this fixture wasn’t enough to defeat Sheffield’s strong challenge. Photograph by Jason Lozier.

Yet it was too late for York. In the early stages of the fixture Brennan and Johnson had been played off the court by their hugely impressive opponents. Lyndon Borrill was especially imposing against Brennan, storming to early leads in each one of the three games and withstanding spirited late flourishes from his opponent to see them off. The most competitive of the games was the second, where Brennan recovered from going 5-1 down to level the scores, but was undone by a number of mistakes as his opponent continued to play excellently.

Elsewhere Matt Johnson was visibly frustrated as his opponent, Tom Anthistle, beat him in three sets. It was another display of the quality of this Sheffield team, something that York will be wary of when they play the return fixture next week. They will have to take encouragement from their improved play later in the fixture as they try and move from the foot of BUCS Northern Conference 2B.

York: Calum Fraser (c), Paul Atkinson, Tom Lee, Matt Johnson, Matt Brennan
Sheffield: Sam Watts, Toby Cockill, Paul Snape (c), Tom Anthistle, Lyndon Borrill

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