The second of the crunch matches between the top two teams in the Braintree Table Tennis League went the same way as the first – a win for champions Liberal A.

In fact Liberal improved by one, a 7-3 win this time compared with 6-4 in their first encounter. And that has stretched their lead to 10 points.

The match was a mixture of the expected and unexpected. Three wins for both Brandon Crouchman and Simon Webber were little surprise, especially given Webber’s spurt of form this year – although Crouchman was nearly given another going-over by Hector Rogers, who beat him in the early part of the season.

He lost the first two games but then pulled it together to win the last three 11-8, 11-7, 11-7.

What was not anticipated was that Peter Hayden would fail to register. Even the new dead-bat version of Hayden might have been expected to take at least one singles but he was clearly not at his best.

The two Netts teams in third and fourth places both won, the A team 7-3 over Rayne B, with Andy Holmes and Gary Cattermole unbeaten, and the B team 6-4 over Netts C, where the C team’s Nikki Davison took her three singles for the second week running.

Liberal B beat Rayne C 8-2 where Paul Lombardi’s win over Robin Armstrong was the only singles set dropped, and Black Notley A went one better against Rayne D where it was Dave Punt who spoiled the clean sheet with a win over Chris Parr.

Takunda Nerutanga, called up from his normal third division berth, became the ninth player to represent division two leaders Notley B this season. He obliged with a win over Barrie Applegate in the team’s 7-3 victory over Nomads.

A strong Rayne F side took all ten from their own G team while an equally strong Rayne E side – Dave Marsh was in both – followed suit against Notley D.

Max Plumridge’s win over Matthew Laws was the only one to get away in Felsted RBL A’s 9-1 win over Netts D.

Felsted C recorded yet another 9-1 win in division three –Tony Smith this time finding his way past Andy Laws – while second-placed Notley E beat Notley H 8-2. Matt Brooks and son Jamie were both unbeaten.

Rayne H were also 8-2 winners. They beat their own J team, for whom Dave Whiting won twice but couldn’t find a way past Charles Wilkinson, who beat him 11-7 in the fifth game.