Match Report for 20th February, 2020
For half of the teams in the Hinckley Air Rifle League there was a break as the other half contested the semi-finals of the Norman Illiffe Cup. Fittingly, the four teams involved finished the regular season in the top four spots in the league table, the cup draw pitting first against third and second against fourth.
The league winners, Sporting Lions, made the journey to Ashby Road Sports Club, home of Ashby Road ‘B’, hoping to keep alive their hopes of adding the league’s only knockout cup to their season’s trophy haul but knowing that they would be at a severe disadvantage with several of their top shooters not able to make the fixture, and with just seven shooters. The home side were also missing one of their key shooters but they had the advantage of having nine shooters, allowing them to discard their two lowest scores. This advantage became apparent in the first half where the home side, having won the toss and deciding to shoot first, got off to a reasonable start thanks to Andy Cryer’s 28.1 and Rikki Hammersley’s 27. Kim Baker followed with a 25.2 and Martyn Wood’s 27.1 came next, and whilst John Palk scored a relatively low 24 his team knew that it would be unlikely that they would have to count this. The response from the Lions’ first half counted slightly better high scores, starting with an excellent 30.4 from Glen Dainter, and concluding with Jeanette Mulkeirins’ 27.2 and Melanie Jenkins’ 27.1, but also included Peter Dainter’s 22 and Ken Paulley’s 24, both of which would have to be counted.
Ashby Road’s second half started well thanks to a 29.3 from Jon Storer but the scoring gradually slowed thereafter, Alf Shore following with his 27.1 before Mike Sansome added a 25 and Jeff Goodyer closing with a disappointing 23.1. Alison Smith opened the visitors’ second half with an excellent 29.4 but their only other shooter, Taryn Cockerill, managed just 24, leaving Ashby Road ‘B’ victorious by 188.8 to 184.1.
The other semi-final saw the Hounds hosting the formidable Trojans team, the current holders of the trophy. Given that both teams shoot their home matches at the Greyhound, home benefit was going to be relatively slight, with the only advantage for the Hounds being that they would be shooting on their own target. Having won the toss, the Hounds captain, Paul Huddlestone, decided to shoot first to force their opponents to chase a target but knowing that his team would have to put in possibly their best performance of the season if that target were to be large enough to take them to the final.
The Hounds opened the match in a modest fashion with a Lee Foskett 26.1 but they soon picked up the pace, an excellent 30.4 from third man Giles Headley preceding Leanne Simpson’s 27.2 and Richard Green’s 28.2. The response from the Trojans was relatively assured as Richard Sanders led the way with his 27 before Dave Brown added his 28.3, Rebecca Horsler chipped in with a 28.1, and Phil Hood closed the half with a 26.2, but this left the visitors slightly behind at the half way point.
The second half saw the Hounds piling on the pressure thanks to Colin Smith’s 26.2, Adam Padamsey’s 29.2, Richard Allen’s 28.1, Paul Griffin’s 28.2 and a closing 29.3 from Paul Huddlestone to give the Hounds their highest score of the season so far, 200.6 The Trojans did their utmost to overhaul this outstanding total as Rob Forman’s opening 29.3 was followed by Mark Smith’s 27, Leigh Hall’s 29.4, Nigel Jackson’s 28.3 and Roger Sills’ 26 but these left their last shooter, Chris Sills, needing at least 30.3 to take the win. Of all the shooters in the league Chris may well be the most capable of performing under that sort of extreme pressure as he has done similar things on numerous occasions in the past but a third shot four meant that he scored 29.2, still highly creditable, but leaving his team one short on 199.6 and sending the Hounds to April’s final, to face Ashby Road ‘B’.