BOWLS: Westlecot leave it late against Oxford

Dave Snell

Dave Snell

First published in Sport

WESTLECOT men snatched victory from the jaws of defeat last weekend in their latest East Region match to keep alive their hopes of reaching the Wessex League end-of-season play-offs for the overall title.

They had led Oxford & District 63-48 across the board at 15 ends and looked on course for a comfortable victory.

But like the previous week against West Berks when the side collapsed in the latter stages, their 15-shot lead over Oxford and District had evaporated completely and after 18 ends they found themselves trailing 66-65.

The deficit increased as Oxford moved four shots clear on the 19th end to lead 72-68 but then Westlecot, who had dropped 24 shots and only scored five over the previous four ends, arrested the slump and snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.

At home Dave Snell’s four, who had led 15-3 at 11 ends but not scored since and trailed 15-18 at 19, grabbed three shots on the 20th end. Alongside, John Thomas’ rink, who were 24-9 up at 15 ends but had been pegged back to 24-18 at 19, pulled in a big count of four on the 20th.

These seven shots at Westlecot compensated with profit for the three shots dropped away at Cowley and brought the scores level at 75-75 to set-up a nail-biting climax to the match.

Thomas and Snell both scored singles on their last ends at home while Ian Jefferies also collected a single away.

And to complete the last end clean sweep Chris Cheesley’s away rink came up trumps with a two.

They had only trailed 15-13 at 15 ends but were 26-13 down at 20, but their two helped to seal Westlecot’s narrow and hard-fought win and ensured the east section race for top spot and play-off places will go down to the wire.

Tomorrow Westlecot will be looking to make their outstanding fixture, a rearranged game against Banbury Cross, really count in the scrap for play-off places.

The East Region of the Wessex League has developed into a three-horse race for top spot and the automatic play-offs places for the teams finishing first and second.

Plus there is also a side door as four wild cards will be available to join the 12 sides that finish in the top two in the six regional tables.

Any victory tomorrow is vital for Westlecot men as it would move them above Carterton into second place in the East Region table. However, a win on all four rinks against Banbury would give them a full house 16 points and take them one point clear of West Berks at the top of the table.

It would, barring a disaster in the final match next week against Carterton, practically ensure an automatic play-offs spot.

The side chosen to meet Banbury shows two changes to the team that beat Oxford & District but has a host of positional switches.

Neil Smith and Tom Walkley return to the Westlecot side as skips with Dave Snell and John Thomas switching to three and lead respectively, while Mike Shawyer and Paul Kistle are unavailable.

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