UKDA Season 2023/24 – Match 1: Shropshire vs Gloucestershire

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Shropshire began their new season in division three of the UKDA National League with a home fixture against newly relegated from division two Gloucestershire and it was the visitors who got the better start to the weekend as their ladies ‘B’ side won 4-2 but they had to come from 2-0 down before achieving that win.

Joanne Meachin gave Shropshire their first stripe n the board as she won 3-2 against Sam Higgins and with a lady of the match win for Sarah-Louise Williams who beat Sharon Brewer 3-0 with a 14.31 average the home team were two up. Kirstie Millington took Chris Marsh to a deciding leg but was unable to make it 3-0 for the hosts as she lost 3-2 and with a 3-0 win for Vicky Parmley over Gemma Smith the match was squared at 2-2.

For the first time in the game Gloucestershire went ahead in the fifth thanks to a 3-0 win from Jane Price against Deana Sheldon and with a 3-2 win for Suzie Slatter over Sandra Beardsmore in the final game Gloucestershire won 4-2.

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Sam Hamilton got the men’s ‘B’ off to a winning start when he won 3-1 against Keith Lawrence and with a similar 3-1 win for Graham Ferguson over Mark Turley, like their ladies ‘B’ team, the men’s ‘B’ went 2-0 up. Rob Long pulled one back for Gloucestershire in the third when he beat Ant Whitehouse 3-0 only to see Shropshire’s two games buffer restored in the fourth with a 3-2 success for Ant West over Wayne Baker. A 3-1 win for Clint Keyse over Chris Evans plus a 3-2 win by Mark Wellington against Will Roberts in the sixth game saw the score all level at three each by the break.

The second half saw the away side take the lead for the first time in the game when their Kieran Smith beat Adam Thackray 3-2 but parity was quickly restored as man of the match Phil Clarke accounted for Dean Terry with a straight 3-0 result and a 24.64 average. Jon Blakemore’s 3-1 win over Steve Easton saw the home team go 5-4 up and with a further 3-2 win for Brett Cooper over Les Higgs Shropshire were assured of at least a share of the spoils with a 6-4 lead. Dan Collins kept the away side in the hunt for a draw with his 3-2 win over Rob Pierce but Shropshire’s anchor-man Dave Bayton gave his team the 7-5 victory when he won 3-1 against Matt Kerry.

Sunday’s ‘A’ games saw the ladies in terrific form as they stormed into an unassailable 4-0 lead. Kicking-off the quartet of wins was Sophie Ward who accounted for Sharon McNulty with a 3-2 result the same margin by which Marie Riggs defeated Heather Grindle. Michele Pritchard put a win for Gloucestershire beyond their reach when she beat Hannah Smith 3-1 and with a 3-0 success from the host’s lady of the match Becky Harris the game was won. Becky won against Kirsty Dixon and recorded an average of 19.03.

In the penultimate game Carol Smith chalked up what turned out to be Gloucestershire’s solitary win as she won 3-2 against Nicola Ball but the final score was taken to 5-1 in Shropshire’s favour when last on Jenna Ball won 3-1 against Sharon Brewer.          

With Shropshire now leading 14-10 all that was required from the men’s ‘A’ were five more winners for an overall victory for the weekend. And it all began well as opener Andy Jervis beat Sam Brough 4-0. Game two was another 4-0 result but this time it went to another Andy, this time Gloucestershire’s Andy Hammond over Martin East and with  further 4-3 and 4-2 wins for the visitors Mark Wellington and Liam Devries over respective opponents Simon Pritchard and Reece Cook-Lucas Gloucestershire were leading 3-1. Josh Pickett’s 4-1 win over Dean Thomas reduced the arrears but by the break the away side had opened up a 4-2 advantage after Steve Handley closed the half with his 4-2 win over Sam Aitkens.

Simon Mountford supplied Shropshire’s third win when he began the second half with a 4-2 victory over Andy Sim, but Gloucestershire still fighting to keep in the game added a 4-1 win from Andy Morse against Kevin Harris to their tally and although Richard Parker (Shropshire) won 4-1 against Ian Beasley the elusive fifth win still evaded them as Rich Bambridge beat Lee Shaw 4-2 to give the away team a 6-4 lead.

The all-important fifth win for Shropshire came in the penultimate game of the not only the men’s ‘A’ game but the weekend’s fixture as their man of the match Chris Fox won 4-1 against Rhys Jackson with a super 29.29 average, taking the overall score for the weekend to a winning 19-16 lead for the host’s.

The final game was won by Gloucestershire’s Shaun Hughes who won 4-2 against Mark Jones to take the men’s ‘A’ result to 7-5 to Gloucestershire but the overall score for the weekend 19-17 to Shropshire to put them third in the divisional table with 22 points, only four behind leaders Breconshire with second placed Cumbria two to the good on Shropshire with 24 points.


Alan Towe writes with the support of Red Dragon Darts

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