Gresham’s stun Specials

Star Paving Services North Norfolk Table Tennis League

There will be a new name on the Knockout Doubles Cup this season as Delta are set to battle Gresham's School in the final, after the latter stunned Specials in the semi-finals.

The Specials team of John Paul, Martin Lawes and Ray Howe made their first visit to the school, where they faced the team of Haken Bennell, Robert Land and Robin Thaxter.

The first two wins went to Gresham's in four close sets on each occasion, before Paul and Lawes pulled one back for Specials with a five-set win against Bennell and Land.

Land and Thaxter then made it 3-1 in Gresham's favour as they came from two sets down to edge out Paul and Howe 10-12, 8-11, 11-6, 11-5, 12-10.

Paul and Lawes then defeated Bennell and Thaxter 12-14, 11-9, 11-4, 11-6, but Gresham's still led 3-2 at the halfway stage of the best-of-nine contest.

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Bennell and Land then moved Gresham's one win from the final with a straight-sets defeat of Lawes and Howe.

Paul and Lawes kept Specials in the contest — but only just — as they defeated Land and Thaxter 11-9, 9-11, 12-10, 7-11, 12-10, but Bennell and Thaxter closed out the 5-3 win for Gresham's School with an 11-8, 11-7, 9-11, 7-11, 11-8 defeat of Paul and Howe.

It really was one of the matches of the season and would have been befitting of the final, featuring outstanding rallies and the classic battle of attack versus defence.

The other semi-final of the Doubles saw Delta's Jack Morton, Andy Beane and Tom Baldock-Yaxley host Goblin's Peter Ward. Jonathan Care and John Miller.

The Delta team raced to a 6-0 win, with three battles won in four sets and the other three in straight. And so it will be Delta against Gresham's School.

Who would have thought at the start of the season that the final would be without the presence of either Specials or Outlaws?

Delta have had a terrific season so far.

Having been promoted, they came into the First Division with the aim of avoiding relegation, but come Christmas they found themselves jointly sharing the lead of the division and on course to make both Knockout Cup finals.