The first weekend’s action in this season’s County Championships Junior Premier Division was held at a new venue for the competition in BATTS in Essex. After the first weekend’s action it was Lincolnshire and Sussex who led the way as both counties recorded three wins from three matches played.

The first round of matches saw both Lincolnshire and Sussex record solid 7-3 victories as Sussex beat Kent and Lincolnshire saw off Cleveland. But the match of the round was the match between Middlesex and Surrey who fought out a thrilling encounter, the result of which was in doubt until the final set.

Marcus Giles gave Surrey the lead with a 3-0 (11-7, 11-3, 11-4) win over David Rahbani then doubled the lead in the next set as Shaquille Webb-Dixon beat Charlie Austin 3-1 (11-7, 8-11, 11-6, 11-3).

Middlesex hit back in the next set as Hiba Feredj survived a first game reversal to beat Rhianon Folan 3-1 (8-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-7) only to see Surrey re-establish their two set lead as Joseph Langham-Ferreira beat Mitchell Jones 3-1 (11-5, 4-11, 11-4, 11-8).

Isabelle Joubelly brought the sides to within a set as she beat Denise Payet in four 3-1 (7-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-2) and Rahbani then levelled the match when he beat Webb-Dixon 3-1 (11-8, 10-12, 11-7, 11-8).

Middlesex then took the lead for the fist time in the match as Payet beat Folan 3-1 (8-11, 11-6, 12-10, 11-9) only for Surrey to hit back and level the match as Giles beat Jones 3-0 (11-7, 11-9, 11-7).

Middlesex guaranteed themselves at least a share of the spoils in the penultimate set of the match when Feredj beat Joubelly 3-0 (11-8, 11-7, 11-6). However, Langham-Ferreira earned a well-deserved draw for Surrey by completing his own personal maximum with a 3-0 (11-6, 11-6, 11-7) win over Austen.

The final result from the first round saw Glamorgan ease past Yorkshire 8-2.

In the second round of fixtures, played on Sunday morning, Lincolnshire beat Yorkshire 9-1 and Sussex also retained their unbeaten record as they took the last two sets against Cleveland to win 6-4.

Also in this round of fixtures Middlesex picked up their first win with a 7-3 victory over Kent while Surrey were involved in another thriller as they yet again drew, this time with Glamorgan.

In this match both the top two Surrey boys maintained their unbeaten run by winning twice each while third player Webb-Dixon picked up the other set after a win over Marc Castro 3-1 (6-11, 11-4, 11-4, 11-5), but on this occasion it was the girls of Glamorgan who earned their team the draw as Laura Edwards and Soffi Jenkins both picked up two wins at the expense of counterparts Joubelly and Folan. Jac Jenkins picked up the other win for Glamorgan as he beat Webb-Dixon 3-1 (11-9, 11-7, 8-11, 11-5).

In the third round of fixtures, Sussex beat a disappointing Yorkshire 9-1 and Lincolnshire beat Glamorgan 8-2 to maintain their winning starts, whilst in the other two matches Surrey beat Kent 8-2 and Cleveland beat Middlesex by the narrowest of margins 6-4.

The results set up an interesting climax when the division finishes in Walsall next year. The clash between the top two counties looks promising although Surrey will be there in the mix as they still have both the top two to play.

However, things are already looking grim for the bottom two as Kent and Yorkshire on zero points face a tough fight for survival.

Find the latest results and tables here

Barry Snowden, County Championship Press Officer (November 20, 2013)