The battle for the Yorkshire Squash League title is thrillingly poised at the halfway stage of the season, with Pontefract, Dunnington and Chapel Allerton separated by just six points at the top.
Dunnington, the 2015 champions, capitalised on their rivals’ lack of game last week to climb into second place on 146 points, two points behind Pontefract and four ahead of Chapel Allerton, as the League shut down for its six-week winter break.
The York club recorded their fifth successive victory by storming to a 17-4 success at Queens, who had welcomed back 39-year-old former world no.3 Madeline Perry at third string.
However, the 15-time Irish national champion, who retired from the PSA Tour last year, was unable to alter the Halifax side’s fortunes as she succumbed 3/0 to Michael Andrews in Queens’ third consecutive loss.
Matt Sidaway, former world no.15 Sarah Campion and David Hymas were also beaten, by Danny Hockborn (3/0), Andy Cross (3/0) and Ben Cross (3/1) respectively, with James Earles preventing a clean sweep via his straight-games drubbing of Gareth Lumsdon.
Defending champions Barnsley have it all to do in the second half of the season if they are to retain the title after a shock 16-9 defeat at Pontefract seconds.
Although Welsh national champion and recent Wimbledon Cup winner Joel Makin warmed up for the British Grand Prix with a 3/0 rout of Adam Taylor at first string, Barnsley’s only other success came at number two, where Oli Harris edged past Sam Wileman 3/2.
World no.36 Millie Tomlinson, last week’s Monte Carlo Classic runner-up, was squeezed out 3/2 by 17-year-old Elliot Ridge, Josh Greaves crashed 3/0 to Matt Godson and Phil Bowker went down 3/1 to highly promising 15-year-old Ben Sockett, the teenager’s sixth YSL win in seven matches.
There was another surprise result at Hull and East Riding, who overpowered fifth-placed Hallamshire 19-5, with Alex Cutts the visitors’ solitary winner by a 3/2 margin against Yusef Forster.
Nick Wall was a similarly narrow loser against Harry Falconer, but world no.32 Fi Moverley, Glyn Saunders and Paul Norton all coasted to 3/0 wins against Dan Lawrence, Harry Wyld and Sam Davey.
However, perhaps the most stunning result of the night came at Abbeydale, where the Sheffield club’s second team defeated their firsts 16-11 in the match between the division’s bottom two to score their first win of the season.
Phil Scully, Sam Watts and James Biggin sealed the victory – which leaves the seconds only 13 points adrift of the firsts – by beating Murray Scott 3/2, Charlie Wall 3/2 and Tom Turner 3/1.