Dunnington began the defence of their Yorkshire Premier League squash crown with a dramatic win over Barnsley in Wednesday night’s opening round.
Both clubs were without several big-name stars – no Declan James or George Parker for the hosts or Chris Simpson for the visitors – but that didn’t affect the quality of entertainment for a packed crowd at the South Yorkshire club.
Matt Stephenson and Julian Tomlinson were victorious in straight games for the visitors from York while Josh Owen and Stuart MacGregor put wins on the board for Barnsley.
That meant it all came down to the top string game, which pitted 23-year-old home hope Miles Jenkins against the world No.77 Jan van den Herrewegen, winner of four PSA Tour titles. It was the Belgian who won it 11-9 in the deciding game, to wrap up a nerve-wracking 15-8 away victory.
Pontefract 1, who finished runners-up last year, crashed 16-9 at home to last year’s strugglers Hull & East Riding in their opening fixture.
Pontefract No.1 Patrick Rooney, the world No.93 from Merseyside, got his expected 3/0 win over young Ben Smith and Billy Hawes won at No.5, but it was in the middle order where Hull did the damage. Paul Norton beat local girl Katie Smith, Glyn Saunders won an epic battle with George Wileman and 16-year-old Ben Sockett dismissed Alex Hodgetts in straight games.
Chapel Allerton 1, the 2016/17 winners, got off to a fine start by conquering Sheffield side Abbeydale 18-7 and go top of the nascent table.
Youngster Ben Merchant kicked things off with a 3/1 over seasoned campaigner Murray Scott and Welshman Owain Taylor put Chapel in charge with a straight-games win at No.2.
Although Abbeydale’s Phil Scully pulled one back the No.1s were up next and world No.189 Mark Fuller sealed the home win with a typically energetic 3/1 success over Adam Auckland. New Zealander Joe Williams, making his Chapel A debut, rubber-stamped the team triumph by beating Oli Turner 11/1 in the fifth.
Richie Fallows transferred from Dunnington to Queen’s Club in a big summer move and marked his debut with a convincing win over highly-promising youngster Sam Todd as his new side won 16-6 against Pontefract 2. Conor Sheen and Charlie Cowie were the Halifax club’s other winners.
Pontefract 2’s Matt Godson had beaten former women’s world No.15 Sarah Campion and Ben Beachill won a cracker with Danny Bray, but the visitors’ top order couldn’t build on that early promise.
Hallamshire were the other winners on the season’s opening night, beating Chapel Allerton 2 pretty comprehensively 17-4. Alec Foster dismissed world No.125 Charlotte Jagger but that was as good as it got for the visitors from Leeds on the night.
Harry Falconer, Alex Cutts and talented teenager Oscar Beach all won in three straight games, while Chapel A’s John Riley delayed Dan Lawrence a little longer by losing in four.