The formidable presence of European champion James Willstrop proved decisive as Pontefract 1 won the table-topping clash with Chapel Allerton 1 in the Yorkshire Premier League.
Willstrop, the former world No.1 and recent PSA World Series Finals runner-up, clinched victory for his boyhood club in a thrilling duel which went down to the wire amid a typically raucous Ponte atmosphere.
Lee Beachill – himself a former world No.1 – struck first for Ponte by dismissing young Egyptian Omar El Tahry in straight games, but Chapel A’s Kiwi youngster Jackson Beresford hit back immediately by beating Chris Gillespie.
Chapel A captain Simon Parke, the now-retired ex-world No.3, won 3/1 but Ponte’s Taminder Gata Aura beat Owain Taylor 3/1 at second string to tie the match at 2-2.
Willstrop, drafted in to replace usual top string Patrick Rooney, made short work of world No.118 Mark Fuller to maintain Pontefract 1’s 100% start to the season after six games, and inflict a first defeat of the season on Chapel Allerton 1.
York club Dunnington, the 2015 title winners, moved up into second place courtesy of a complete annihilation of Chapel Allerton 2. All five players won 3/0; England U19 16th-ranked Ben Cross, veteran Matthew Stephenson, England U19 No.6 Michael Andrews (who is unbeaten in YPL this season), and experienced nos. 1 and 2 Julian Tomlinson and Gareth Lumsdon.
Down the M1, Abbeydale were dishing out some punishment of their own, beating a depleted Queen’s of Halifax 4-1 to remain in fourth place. All four of the Sheffield club’s wins were in straight games.
Among their victors were Adam Auckland (who rebounded from a defeat for Nottingham in the PSL the previous evening) and Matthew Broadberry, who took the scalp of England national senior coach David Campion.
Pontefract 2 continue to impress, beating Hull and East Riding 4-1 to remain in fifth place. Sam Todd, the 14-year-old son of club owner Mick and the US Open junior champion, beat women’s world No.24 Fiona Moverley 3/2, while Elliot Ridge, England’s fifth best junior, beat Ben Smith. Regulars Adam Taylor and Matt Godson completed the comfortable victory.
In Wednesday’s other encounter, hosts Hallamshire won the mid-table battle with Barnsley 4-1. Highly promising youngsters Oscar Beach and Nick Wall were among their victors, with Alex Cutts also picking up his first YPL win of the season in beating women’s world No.22 Millie Tomlinson.