On Wednesday 21st and Thursday 22nd February we held the quarter finals of this years John Ford competition at Alsager and Sandbach School. Al the matches were well fought and close. This is what happened:

Alsager played Canute in the first event. Alsager fielded four experienced men (Guillaume Schneider, Landerson Innocensio, Tom Wolfe and Jon Postlethwaite) and two of their most exciting young prospects (Ellie Baines and Evie Geal). Canute responded with a very experienced line up of Alex Mason, Mark Henderson, Gareth Tench, Rob Evans, Kara Robinson and Vicky Morse. The handicappers had felt that the imbalance in experience across the patch would mean Alsager needing some help to the tune of 126 points. The first game proved the difficulty in prediction. Jon and Ellie  ran Alex and Kara close on game 1 but found the going tough in game 2. This was soon reversed as Guillaume  and the rapidly improving junior player Evie took one game off Mark and Vicky 21-15. The second game went to 20-21 so a great effort for Alsager. Many of the games then went with prediction including one which exceeded expectation, sadly for Alsager losing a game 21-0 (not expected!). As expected though - Alsager lost the match on points by 347 to 249. Given a +126 handicap that turned it round to an Alsager win 375 to 347 a difference of 28 points (1.5 per game, well done handicappers). Alsager march on.

The second QF that night was Goostrey and Welsh Row. The perennial problem of how to handicap players of the calibre of Welsh Row haunted us again (Warren Simpson, Jack Raiswell, David Dodd, Josh Bamford, Claire Griffin, Zoe Raiswell). Goostrey fielded a team of (shall we say) mature and experienced players in Jamie Stephens, Mark Thomas, Manbun Lee, Rob Owen-Smith, Julie Stephens and Sue Mills (taking a night off from supporting the best football team in the world - Leeds United). Welsh Row were the usual Division 1 squad (actually they do not play in anything other than division 1 in any discipline). The handicappers after some deliberation chose to award Goostrey +250 points. That effectively meant that we expected Goostrey to manage somewhere around the  6, 7, 8  points per game. So it proved to be with one very important exception. Manbun and Julie hit a par 7 in their first game against Josh  and Zoe, but answered back with a whopping 17 points in the second game. Welsh Row accumulated the expected maximum of 378 points to Goostrey's 139. Adding the 250 handicap meant Goostrey squeaked home by 11 points (0.6 per game - handicappers take a bow). Manbun and Julie - that game was the difference!

In the third match Weaverham took on Crosses. Weverham had the usual suspects on duty, bags of power and experience all round. Any Brown and Kevin Ashley partnered for the zillionth time in history. The two Andrews (Bishop and Lewis) are a regular partnership, and Karen Hall with Sian Lewis have some considerable experience between them. Crosses on the other hand had some experience and some youth. In particular young Matthew Owen (of the famous Owen clan) is a very new face to the scene, a junior player with bags of potential (but what about the pressure cooker atmosphere of a John Ford?). Craig Delury, Jamie Croucher and Anne Haslam are experienced regulars. Neeraj Mittal does not usually represent the Crosses teams. The handicappers were sympathetic to Crosses to the tune of +75 points. Craig and Jamie did very well to halve with Andy and Kevin. Elsewhere it went more or less to expectation. Weaverham scored 332 to Crosses 286. With handicap Crosses turned that into a win by 29 points (1.6 per game, another close one handicappers!). Crosses progress.

The final match was Northwich against South Cheshire. SC Captain Paul Frith led relative newcomers Chris Slinn, Pawel Chlebowicz, Marcus Walsh, Sue Saunders and Weronika Haynosz. Northwich had the increasingly influential squad of Owain Sparrow, Ted Wilshaw, Matt Campbell, Abenz Madassery Pappachan, Ellie Corker and Rachel Wellings. In this one the handicappers leaned towards giving the less experience South Cheshire team a few points  +61 to be exact. The majority of the games went to expectation. Weronika achieved some very notable scores given her starting to play the game only very recently. The mens games were very hard fought. South Cheshire had ascendency in more games than might have been expected but Northwich did hold sway accumulating 333 points to South Cheshire's 315. The handicap reversed that to South Cheshire winning by 376 to 337 (with handicap) - a difference of 39 points (2.1 per games which is a bit more than handicappers like but still creditable). South Cheshire progress.

The semi finals take place at Winsford on 8th March. Attached are the score sheets.


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