BIDDING to retain their first Premier Division snooker title won in the narrowest of fashion last year, West Midlands Police took maximum points from their home match with Kinver Const A.
The Police now have a nine point lead over Hotshots SC A, the only team who can catch them, and who sportingly agreed to postpone their home match with what would have been a weakened Pockets SC A team.
With 17/19 wins Kev Franklin has the joint second most wins, with team-mates Gavin Sloan & Eliott Bastable one step behind him.
Hotshots’ last match is away to Brandhall Labour while the Police have to travel to 3rd-placed Norton Social A, who came within a black ball of snatching the title from them last season. Both teams won 3-2 away from home, Brandhall, through Rich Crowley, Chris Southall and Bal Sembi, took the honours at Townsend Social, while Norton went 3-0 ahead at Kingswinford Cons B through Rob Pitt, Steve Mason and Andy Smith, who had a break of 84, before Tony Davies and Andrew Brown, with a 42 break, replied for the hosts.
Gary Smith, Gavin Evans and Lee Page, who had visits of 46 and 30 in recording his 18th win in 19 frames, put Pockets SC B 3-0 ahead at home to Hotshots B before Dan Hartley and Dawid Konior hit back to earn two consolation points for the visitors.
In the First Division, Baggeridge Social won 3-2 away to the champions, St John’s Social becoming the first team to beat them on their own tables.
Alfie Southall, Luke Whale, on the black, and Frankie Bennett won before Beamer Jones & Kev Smith struck back. They need a single frame from their last match of the season to guarantee the runners-up position after their closest rivals, Amblecote Institute B slipped up 4-1 at their neighbours, Amblecote RBL B.
Jason Colbourne, with a 38 break, was the Institute’s only winner, as the Legion’s Barry Young, Jack Ball, Geoff Foster & Sam Ball gave themselves a chance of finishing outside the bottom two; they trail Kingswinford Cons A by two points after the Cons lost 3-2 at Norton Social B. Thomas Male and John Byng continued their good form for the Cons, but Norton’s Luke Grosvenor, John Woodcock & Paul Bowen secured the win for Norton.
The joint 4th placed teams enjoyed 4-1 victories: Kinver B, given a fine start again by Jason Hickman, with a 48 break, and Adam Sprague, completed the win against Stourbridge Inst A through Graham Taylor & Steve Nicholls; Paul Garbett comfortably won his 11th frame in succession for the Institute. Moor Pool & Snooker lost the opening frame to Old Edwardians’ Chris Cowley, but Neil Gennard, Lee Whitehouse, Simon Dingley & Ian Priest earned them the 4-1 win to share 4th place.
In the Second Division Handicap semi-finals there was little to choose between Kingswinford Snooker Centre who received 18 points from Stourbridge Inst D throughout their match.
Brett Harris’ 14 point for the Institute, allied with Steve Ballinger’s single point win for KSC, reduced the leeway to five. Glen Harris’ 5 point win and Steve Howell’s 23 point win, which included a fine pink and black, after a good attempt by Jamie Westwood to contain his rival, meant that the Institute’s Mike Pritchard had a 23 point advantage in the final frame against Paul Curry. Good safety play and careful potting saw Mike extend his advantage to see his team through to the final.
The Second Division champions Kingswinford Cons C had to concede 78 points to Bahia’s SC, and fell further behind after the first two frames when John Cartwright lost to Alan Woodbine, and Adam Coley was held to 4 points by Andy Martin. Sam Porter gave the Cons hope with a 62 point win, but Reece Bahia’s 24 point win against Leigh Bennett gave Bahia’s a 57 lead into the final frame, and Matt Redfern held off the challenge of Bob Guise to secure a place in the final for Bahia’s in this first season in the league.