Chichester ladies push Winchester all way in squahs showdown

Chichester Racquets & Fitness Club’s Ladies’ squash team travelled to Winchester and went close to snatching victory from a full-strength side who are one of the toughest in the league.

The visitors lost 3-2, but eagerly await the return match for a chance to put the record straight.

Gill Horsey at fifth string fought hard and went close in the second, but went down in three to Sarah White.

At No4, Sarah Porter flew out of the blocks for Chichester, storming to a 2-0 lead for the loss of just four points, winning 9-3, 9-1. Porter lost the next two games 9-7, 9-6 but was on fire in the fifth, barely putting a racquet wrong to take it 9-1 and level the match at 1-1.

The clash of the skippers at second string saw Chichester’s Zoe Shardlow out-thinking and out-manoeuvring the harder-hitting Hannah Khairallah for two games. She lost concentration in the third before taking the fourth and give Chichester a 2-1 lead.

Making a welcome return at third string was Kelly Eastment, playing her first match for Chichester for over a year. In an epic encounter with Jo Sothcott, Eastment took the opener 10-9, but lost the next two.

She came back to take the fourth 9-4 and took the match to a thrilling finale in which it was 7-7 when Eastment was denied a stonewall stroke which would have taken her to match point. Sothcott won the replayed point.

In the next rally, Eastment’s forehand volley kill was an inch off being unreturnable but her opponent took her opportunity, making it 3-2 win for Winchester and squaring the match.

The top-string match saw a battle of the newly-crowned county champions with Hannah Wright Davies (Sussex) taking on Catherine Finlayson (Hampshire).

Previous encounters have gone the way of Wright-Davies, but this time Finlayson claimed victory in stunning style, dropping just eight points in three games.