UNIVERSITY OF YORK 5
UNIVERSITY OF LIVERPOOL 3
A terrific performance from captain James Davies led the men’s badminton firsts to a 5-3 victory over Liverpool firsts on Sunday, dismissing any fears of relegation completely and ending their season on a resounding high.
Before the match confusion abounded as nobody seemed certain of the ramifications of the match. It now seems apparent that had Liverpool won, York would have finished fourth in the table and that position may very well have become a relegation spot had league winners Newcastle firsts (not Leeds Metropolitan Carnegie seconds, despite the fact they came first, because them being a second team would have denied them promotion) been unable to secure promotion to the Premier League – a likely outcome considering the side from the North East didn’t set the league alight this year.
Regardless of the previous confusion, Davies and his side can breathe easily now and in fact their final day victory only left them one point short of second place, which, as outlined previously, would have seen them in a play-off for promotion.
The game started evenly as James Hor beat Madhav Jayachandran 21-18, 12-21, 21-12 – a particular highlight being his run of eleven winners out of thirteen – while Baillie Waterson fell just short to Ross Little, losing 15-21, 16-21.
With the score at 1-1 it was time for the doubles to take the court and York began to seize the initiative. Ricky Kanabar and Paddy Clarke, stalwarts of York badminton but both carrying injuries, romped home against Ben Fielding and David Jo Bain, winning 21-11, 21-7.
Captain Davies and partner Tim Green, up against Liverpool’s first doubles pairing of Heron Mak and Phil Welch, put on a fantastic performance to win 21-16, 16-21, 22-20, with the final end producing some thrilling drama.
York were now on a high and Waterson continued the theme by defeating Jayachandran 21-17, 21-6, whilst also displaying some jaw-dropping flexibility at the same time.
Images: Peter Iveson
Just after the halfway stage York were now up 4-1 and it seemed more than likely that the home side were going to take all the points but complacency often goes hand in hand with defeat and the visitors began to rally. Firstly Hor surprisingly lost out to Little 12-21, 13-21. It seemed more than anything that Hor beat himself, frequently admonishing himself for leaving shots that were eventually in, he appeared frustrated while Little, perhaps because there was no pressure on him at this point, seemed to be nonchalant.
Another surprise was round the corner for the White Rose as Kanabar and Clarke were on the wrong end of a 14-21, 21-23 scoreline against Mak and Welch. All of a sudden the score was 4-3 and York were on the brink of not securing the three points they needed to guarantee safety; step forward Davies and Green.
With a sizeable support cheering them on captain Davies and partner Green delivered the goods, beating Fielding and Jo Bain 21-16, 24-22. Davies, in particular, produced a performance to be proud of. After the game the sensation seemed to be one more of relief than anything else but the fact that York would undoubtedly have been threatening at the top end of the table had they not suffered so much from injuries was apparent: “We needed that and we’re safe now. Considering how bad the start of our season was, that was great. We’ve won every game since we’ve been back to full-fitness and I think that’s important”.