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Men's squash firsts fail to reproduce cup win

Following up their 3-2 cup win over Northumbria two weeks ago was always going to be a hard task for the York team and so it proved as they went down 4-1 to the league-leaders. (Thumbnail credit The men's squash side, successful against Northumbria in the cup two weeks ago (pictured here), were less fortunate in the league yesterday. Image: Peter Iveson)

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Following up their 3-2 cup win over Northumbria two weeks ago was always going to be a hard task for the York team and so it proved as they went down 4-1 to the league-leaders. Northumbria have been in top form this season, whereas York went into the match at the opposite end of the table. The match was a lot closer than the score line suggests, but Northumbria proved to be just a little too strong on the day.

The first match played was between Matt Lewis of York and Alex Storey. Lewis was on top form and bossed the encounter from the very start with a variety of shots keeping his opponent guessing. Storey became more and more frustrated as the game went on and this led to an increased number of unforced errors including a wayward serve to give Lewis a 7-3 lead. Lewis then went on to see out the game 11-5 and then won the next game by the same score line to go 2-0 up. Lewis went into the third game full of confidence and stormed quickly to a 6-3 lead at which point Storey effectively gave up, and went on to make numerous unforced errors to hand Lewis a 3-0 win and to put the York side ahead.

Next up it was Dave Potter of York to face Luke Madge. After an even beginning to the contest where both players traded blow for blow without either of them managing to gain any momentum, it was Madge who managed to pull away to take the first game 11-6. The next game was also very tight and at 10-9 Madge managed to gain the crucial winning point with a superb shot keeping the ball very tight to the wall, making it difficult for Potter to make any decent contact with it. It would have been easy for Potter's head to drop but he showed great character in the third game and stormed to a 5-1 lead with some great squash.

After a minor blip allowing Madge back into the game he ended strongly and took the game 11-5. The efforts of the previous game clearly took their toll on Potter in the fourth however as Madge won it comfortably 11-3 and therefore levelled the score at 1-1.

Matt Brennan was the man charged with trying to regain York's lead as he came up against a very strong opponent in Craig Dowey. After a tight first two games it was Dowey who found himself 2-0 up after consecutive 11-8 game wins. A big performance was to be needed by Brennan in the third in order to fight his way back into the encounter but after a slow start his confidence plummeted, and he lost the game without winning a single point.

Captain Matt Johnson needed to beat Northumbria's Johnny Murray in order to prevent yet another league loss. It was always, however, going to be tough especially as the last time these two played each other it was Murray who won it 3-0. A repeat of that encounter looked to be on the cards as Johnson was outclassed in the first game losing it 11-3. He appeared a different man in the second game though, as he upped his performance levels and the great winning shot to the very back corner of the court encapsulated this improvement. With Murray winning the next and then Johnson the fourth the game came down to a decider. Unfortunately for York it was Murray who nicked it at the very end to win 11-8 and to hand Northumbria victory.

Calum Fraser had the chance to make the score line look more respectable for York but Northumbria's Matt Hardy proved to be too strong and he eventually lost out 3-1, despite playing some very entertaining and fast-paced squash. The final score was 4-1 to Northumbria but on another day York could quite easily have nicked it. A clinical edge and a continuation of their cup form is going to be needed by York in order to turn these close losses into wins and to propel them up the table away from relegation woes.

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