Belper Strutt Club No 1 miss out in close battle

The top two teams locked horns for a crunch showdown in a massively pivotal week with only a couple of rounds left in this season’s Highfields Farm Butchers Premier Division.

Bolehill Institute No 1, holding a seven-point lead, needed a win to keep Belper Strutt No 1 at bay, while the latter knew a good result would leave them nicely poised with a game still in hand .

After a hard-fought frame, Ricki Slack gave the hosts the lead, taking brown, blue and pink against Mark Newby to prevail 73-48. Colin Marchington and Paul Jarrett were nip and tuck in the next but again it was the home player who got in when it mattered with a clearance from yellow to pink making the score 2-0.

The remaining three frames were all settled on the final black. Andrew Brough took on Justin Weller in frame three and held the advantage until his pink into the middle pocket from a narrow angle just caught the jaw and left his opponent in to snatch the last two balls and reduce the deficit.

Even more tension followed as Steve Bullock, seven ahead, agonisingly wobbled the black in the jaws of the baulk pocket and it stayed there for Ian Birks to force a re-spot with the scores level.

And it was he who ultimately sank it again to make the game safe before Ricki Slack potted the black into the middle pocket in the concluding doubles frame to give himself and partner Colin Marchington another narrow win for a 4-1 result.

That leaves Bolehill No 1 now requiring one point to secure the title.

Belper Strutt No 2 edged out Bolehill No 2 by the minimum margin with Chris Stubbs (26 break) playing a leading role though Keith Robertson continued his fine form by scoring 118 points.