Well it's out now, and that's official, the draw for this
year's Knock Out Cup was released to the public domain on the 23rd Sept.
Looking at the draw as a whole there are few groups that
stand out as a group of death. However, that means that groups will be
much harder to predict because the teams are more evenly spread than in
In terms of big, juicy mouth watering ties is looks a bad
draw with no group having two massive teams in it that you can pontificate
about the match being a clash of the giants. The net effect of that is
that the draw is much stronger than is normally the case. With very few
big teams drawn together to knock each other out the groups are much stronger
with a big team in most of the groups.
That means that even more so than usual there will be no
"gimmies " in any of the groups.The teams that do eventually make to the
last 32 will have been pushed all the way and made to work much harder
they would have liked for a group match.
Whilst the above is a generalised overview of the groups
as a whole when you look at the groups in more detail it is clear that
there are some great battles ahead and chances for teams to make a name
Where better to start what now seems to have become a tradition.
My thoughts of all the groups and all the matches that will make up the
group stage of the event.
Imperial, so majestic last year, start their defence of
their title on the traditional table for the reining champions.
Imperial will take on the Worcester Dream team in the group
opener. And if there is one thing Worcester don't want to be doing is
dreaming of a group win over Imperial. They are going to have to fight
for each frame. Imperial's line up consists of players like England international
Andy Breen and ex Tour player John Wylie. Add to that seasoned players
like Ben Clements, J.J. Faul and John Traini and it's not difficult to
see why Imperial performed last year. They will be without the services
of John Sullivan who is no longer in the team.
For Worcester Dream Team it's their first appearance at
the finals so they are very much the underdogs in this match. That said
they do have some handy players in their line up. It won't be as easy
as it might seem at first. However when you look at it objectively there
is only one winner in this match and it won't be Worcester Dream Team.
Their "win" will come in the knowledge that they gave Imperial a much
harder game than first timers have any right to expect.
This will mean that Worcester Dream team will then take
on Leicester Lions. I think that the Dream Team will still be on cloud
nine from their performance in match one. The opening few frames will
be paramount to how well Leicester Lions do. If Worcester opens up a lead
then the lions won't be roaring in this match. If Leicester can keep pace
with the Dream Team then it will be tight but my feelings are that Worcester
will win which will in effect decide the group with Imperial winning it,
Worcester Dream Team in second spot with the Lions bringing up the rear.
Sees a former finalist the All'oas from Lancashire take
on Nottingham's Gainsborough. Under normal circumstances I would say that
the All'oas would come through this match without breaking sweat, however,
in recent Interleague events they have rattled a few feathers. Add to
that the boys from Lancashire are not always at their best at that time
in the morning. Gainsborough on the other hand will be acutely aware of
the quality they will be taking on and will not roll over and play dead.
Another factor the All'oas will have to deal with is having Karl Boyes
and Lee Clough on international duty on the Friday night .
Gainsborough, like the Worcester Dream Team should have
what it takes to give the All'oas a bloody nose, but with the class of
players available for big Kevin O'Halloran to pick from, I can't see Gainsborough
having enough fire power to deliver the knock out blow and will eventually
go down but they will have fought all the way.
This will set up an interesting tussle between Gainsborough
and Beverley A from East Yorkshire. Beverly A are well overdue a good
win in this event that coupled with Gainsborough's low at being so close
to taking out the All'oas could provide the springboard that Beverly need
to produce the goods which I think they will.
That will mean a straight race to ten for the All'oas and
Beverley. By the time this match comes around the All'oas will be wide
awake and ready for battle. That will be very bad news for Beverly because
All'oas manager Mick Timmins along with big Kev will have bawled his team
out for their lacklustre performance in their opening match and told them
in no uncertain terms what playing for the All'oas means and what is expected.
Being a big team, the All'oas are, means you have gears and they will
use them to cruise past Beverly A and book themselves in to the last 32.
Beverly will have to wait another year for their chance
at having a winning run in the event. Gainsborough will be cursing their
luck at not being able to get past the All'oas and thereby getting a go
at Beverley A when they were on a high.
This group has the mighty Triangle led by skipper Ralph
Winfield. Triangle is one of those teams that other Interleague captains
just wish they could be captain of, even for just one day, what would
you do with a team that includes the current World Eight ball Pool federation
world Champion, Mick Hill, the runner up in this year's World Championships
Darren Appleton. And just for good measure a former youth and two time
world champion Chris Melling. I know what I'd do, I'd drop them all and
play myself just because I could. I doubt that Ralph will take that option
though when his team line up against Interleague new boys from Derbyshire
Long Eaton. It's not the best of draws you could have as first timers.
Every draw is cruel to some and kind to others and I'll let you work out
how that works in this instance.
That maybe unfair on Long Eaton since I don't really know
who is in their team all I do know is that many teams have tried I the
past to beat Triangle or Morley International as they used to be, only
the very best have managed it. The vast majority who have tried have failed.
The third team in the group, East Yorkshire's North Wolds
is a much more even match for Long Eaton. Adrian Walton's north Wolds
team have been here many times before so they know what it's all about.
That experience I feel will be enough to see them past Long Eaton.
This table again seems on the face of it little one sided,
Leicester, Interleague finalists take on Dave Preece's Brierley Hill (West
Midlands) who usually make it out of the group phase themselves. On the
face of it Leicester with Steve Robertshaw and Mark Selby in their line
up should make short work of Brierley Hill. However, Leicester has, in
the past come in with some ropey performances in the group stage in the
past. If they chose to do that against Brierley Hill then they will live
probably regret it. Whilst Leicester would start as favourites it is not
beyond the realms of possibility that Brierley Hill could ruffle a few
of Leicester's feathers.
With all the experience that Leicester have they will be
well aware of how dangerous can be and I think that Leicester will not
let their guard down so it's Leicester for me. What that means is that
when Brierly Hill takes on Preston (Lancashire) they will be fighting
for their survival in the event. Preston have over the past few interleague
events have made considerable progress since their sometimes rough and
ready style that marked their early appearances. Skipper, Gareth Hibbot
as moulded his team into a fit fighting unit.
I feel this improvement in overall attitude will be enough
to see them past Brierley Hill who will still be smarting at losing to
Leicester and set up a group decider between Leicester and Preston. Knowing
that both teams are playing for a place in the last 32 will make this
a very close mach as both teams have class players but when the crunch
comes at the back end of the tie I feel the greater fire power of Leicester
will be the deciding factor that allows them to just edge out Preston.
Again, just like the above group it contains one of the
Interleague's finest teams Nottinghamshire's Sun Valley in action against
new comers Netherthorpe (East Yorkshire).I don't know too much about the
overall strength of Netherthorpe as a team but I am very well aware of
how strong Sun valley are. Sun Valley can call on England internationals
Bayden Jackson & Clint I'Anson as well as a vast array of seasoned Interleague
players. Sun Valley are one of those teams who very rarely make mistakes.
Netherthorpe will not find it easy to penetrate the collective armour
of Sun Valley and it will be a real uphill struggle for them. Sun valley
will see it as just another obstacle in their path to a last 32 place
to be dealt with just like all the other teams they have despatched over
London's chalk farm complete the group and if my prediction
is correct then they will be playing Netherthorpe in the second match.
Chalk farm has some useful players in their line up like Matt Francois
& Frankie Gillen and providing skipper Caesar Contri picks his team well
I think that Chalk farm will win this match but it will go all the way.
This will set up a Sun Valley and Chalk Farm head to head
for the group and as much as I would like to think Chalk farm could topple
the mighty Sun valley I can't see it happening so it's Sun valley for
Yet again, this group contains one of the all time big boys
in the group, this time its Shropshire's Dawley A. their first match is
against Holderness (East Yorkshire). Dawley really should have too much
fire power for Holderness with the combined assets of the Blagborough
clan to call on. Holderness will need to produce their "A" if they are
going to get anything out of this fixture.
Weir inns (London) complete this group and it's their first
time here as a unit so they should be playing Holderness in the second
match but that's about as much as I see them doing. Holderness having
lost to Dawley will be in no mood to lose again so Weir inns will be made
to pay the price. In one of those weird twists of fate Holderness will
need Weir Inns to beat Dawley to stand any chance of going through them
selves. HOWEVER I see Dawley coming through this group with two straight
This group starts with an interesting match between Maidstone
A (Kent) and Clacton (Essex) whilst it's fair to say there are no big
names in either team both have their steady players. Clacton have not
been here to often before whilst Maidstone have been. In some of their
previous visits they have given some of the bigger teams a run for their
money. For this reason I will give the Kent boys the benefit of any doubt
and say that they will be the victors.
Clacton will then be faced with the unenviable task of keeping
their hopes alive by beating the third team in the group Ollerton (Nottinghamshire)
Ollerton are another of the Interleague's finest teams with a vast history
in the event most of it illustrious, for Clacton to get a result against
a team with this much class is just not likely to happen. By the time
this match is over Clacton will be out.
I am afraid that I see the group decider between Maidstone
and Ollerton going the same way as the previous match. As much as I would
like to see both Clacton and Maidstone do well the players available to
Ollerton know exactly what they need to do and more often than not they
Who in their right minds would chose to be in this group
sadly, two teams have to join Trent Trophies A in the group and on they
didn't get the option to choose. This is where the draw is at its worst.
Folkestone and Colchester are good solid teams in their own right but
they are not in the same league as the third team in the group Trent Trophies
A Staffordshire. Trent are the most successful team we have ever seen
in the Interleague last year for the first time in I don't know how many
times they failed to make through to the final. It took in form team Imperial
to put a stop to their unbelievable run of success. That was not until
the semi final though. When you look at their team you can see why they
are just about unstoppable it consists of Lee Kendall, Gaz Potts, Carl
Morris, Adam Davis, Daz Henshall, Nick Weller, Steve Bridgewood, Darren
Lightfoot and Mark Blackshaw. With a line up like that it is difficult
to see who can stop them. One thing's for sure it won't be either of the
two teams in this group.
The best they can hope for is to take as many frames as
they can and the knowledge that they have the sympathy of every other
team in the event.
As I 'm writing this It's beginning to look like all the
groups so far have one team that is the runaway favourite and two others,
unfortunately, this group does not change that feeling. Peterborough (Cambridgeshire)
take on Penrith (Cumbria) in the opening match and that will be interesting
because I feel both team are fairly evenly matched so this one is difficult
to pick a winner. Both teams has been here a few times so they know the
ropes but of the two teams, historically speaking, Peterborough have the
better record so I will take them as the winners of match one. Enter P.J.'s
Stourbridge (West Midlands) last year's finalists.
This will be Penrith's last hope of progressing any further
in this year's event. Unfortunately for Penrith P.J.'s Stourbridge their
nest opponents will be thinking more about going one better than they
did last year and Penrith will be in the way of that goal. When you consider
that in the P.J.'s Stourbridge line up will be players of the calibre
of Skipper Paul Dunkey, Rob Chilton, Neil Raybone, Pat Ward, Jarod Griffiths,
Jamie Wylde, Ben Swinnerton and Richie Foxall. It's not too difficult
to see why I feel that that there is only one winner in this group. I
will be very surprised indeed if P.J.'s Stourbridge don't win this group
at a canter.
This is a grouping that is close to my heart because it
welcomes back to the fold a team that is as much a part of the Interleague
as a Yarmouth table. The opening match in this group sees Barking elite
(Essex) rejoin the Interleague. The sad part is that it is not the full
strength Barking Elite of old but it has got a few of the original players
back together again. Even a weakened Barking Elite is a dangerous animal
if you fail to respect it. Their opponents South Yorkshire's Barnsley
are not a new team to the event and probably have a good idea of the respect
that Barking Elite has in the Interleague. They will have to fight hard
but I feel they will have the beating of Elite.
That means Doreen Rorie's Mosconi's Leisure will take on
Barking Elite in match two. I do not know the full strength of Mosconi
Leisure but I have a feeling that Barking Elite will be too strong for
the East Yorkshire team. That in turn means that Barnsley will only have
to avoid defeat against Mosconi's Leisure to qualify for the last 32.
If they are good enough to beat Barking Elite they ought to be able to
at least draw with Mosconi's Leisure.
Friar Tuck (Nottinghamshire) and Wigan (Lancashire) kick
of this group with both these teams having plenty of experience in the
event it should be a close run thing. Wigan of the two teams Wigan has
a better record of progress. Wigan have some quality players In their
line up players like Geoff Harrison and Ian Davenport. Friar tuck might
not have the playing kudos of Wigan but they are more than capable of
beating them. Whether they do or not will be down to the team as a whole
performing to their potential. If not then the class of Wigan will take
St Neots (Cambridgeshire) will be waiting to take on the
losing team, which I suspect will be Friar Tuck, St Neots will no doubt
use the first match to suss out the opposition and if they have done their
homework properly they will be more than ready for Friar Tuck.
The St Neots v Friar Tuck will be a battle royal with Friar
Tuck fighting to say in the competition and St Neots trying to better
Wigan's winning score so that they will take the advantage in to their
match. I think that friar Tuck will have just enough to get the better
of St Neots and by default hand the group to Wigan by beating them.
This table is a real table that is up for grabs for all
three teams so both Gravesham A (Kent) and Hyndburn (Lancashire) will
be hoping for a good start so that they can gain an advantage for their
second match but only one team can have a good start so I think that both
these teams will cancel out each other's best efforts and this match will
be a draw.
That will give Harlow (Essex) a golden opportunity to stake
a claim for the group winner spot. Which ever of the two teams they eventually
play. They will have to get over their susceptibility to slow starts.
Every time I have seen them they have lost the first few frames and then
spent the rest of the match trying to catch up. They are a team that finishes
strong so that if they do get of to a reasonable start I feel they will
win their opening match.
That in turn will mean that Harlow will be in pole position
to win the group bur with it all in the melting pot I feel that the extra
experience of Hyndburn will be enough to put the Lancashire team through
even if it needs a count back to sort out the group winner.
This is another group that is about as open as a group can
be and the opener may well decide the whole group if either Ely (Cambridgeshire)
or Leeds (West Yorkshire) get a big win it mean the end for the other
two teams because this group will be so tight. Ely have Dale Parson &
Iain Aldous who play on the tour as well as Richard Nixon so they have
some class in their line up. Leeds may not have tour players in their
line up but they are a good all round team so Ely won't have an easy time.
That said I do feel Ely will just have the beating of Leeds.
Leeds will then take on Sheppey (Kent) who a few years back
were on their way to being a quality side. That growth has not continued
but they still have players in the team who can do the business on the
table. I feel however that Leeds will just have enough in their tanks
to get past Sheppey.
That means as is so often the case Leeds will be relying
on the team they have just beaten to beat Ely. What usually happens in
these matches is that the third team has no real hope of qualifying and
play that way. That in turn means that Ely will reap the reward for winning
top oh so important first match. It doesn't always happen that way but
more often than not it does.
Sees St Albans Saints (Hertfordshire) take on Dawley B (Shropshire),
which on the face of it would seem very close. St Albans Saints contain
a few of Hertfordshire's county B team and Dawley for their part have
had the benefit of watching their A team so they should know what to do.
The general young age of St Albans Saints against the experience of the
Dawley team should be enough to give Dawley the win. That said, St Albans
saints have a number of players who can dish if they get the chance. That
ability within the St Albans to break dish might override their inexperience.
The third team in the group Elland (West Yorkshire) are
better known for dressing up in silly hats and things than they are for
qualifying from the group they are in. Although they prefer to enjoy the
event rather than the serious side of the weekend first. That does not
mean they don't have a serious side so and they will want to win but I
think St Albans saints will win this one. But not the group, that will
be Dawley B.
Wolverhampton Wednesday (West Midlands) are not the team
they once were but they are still a very strong outfit. There first match
will be against Lowestoft B (Suffolk). Lowestoft have a wealth of experience
but I think that Wolverhampton Wednesday with the players they still have
will be too strong for Lowestoft B.
After being beaten by Wolverhampton Wednesday poor old Lowestoft
will have to face Barnsley (South Yorkshire) who boast in their line up
tour player Karl Milner as well as Nick wollerton. I see Lowestoft getting
much the same treatment as they got from Wolverhampton Wednesday and I
think their Interleague will end before it got going.
This will leave Wolverhampton Wednesday and Barnsley to
slug it out. This will be a great match to watch as neither team will
be giving anything away. The strength of both these teams makes it hard
to predict who will win but I will go for Wolverhampton Wednesday mainly
because they have done it so many times before that it is hard to bet
The opening match in this group pits Chesterfield (Nottinghamshire)
take Suffolk's finest Ipswich. Chesterfield has a good track record in
the event whilst Ipswich has the players but not the track record. Ipswich
if they get a start they will be hard to pin down whereas with Chesterfield
they will work at it until they get the result. All in all I think that
with the Alan Mower, the Keeble brothers and Phil Cullingford's recent
form they will just have enough to win the first match.
That would put Chesterfield in against Thursday Club League
(Northamptonshire) chesterfield should be able to keep their hopes alive
with a win over Thursday Club League but that will mean that Thursday
Club League will have to beat Ipswich with a big enough score to put themselves
through over the other two but I just cant see them having the fire power
needed to achieve it so it's Ipswich to win the group for me.
This group is going to be a tough one because I think the
teams are fairly even and this group is my choice for a classic three
times 9-9 matches. However if that does not happen then I think that the
Andover Swallows (Hampshire) will just edge out Bicester A (Oxfordshire)
by the odd fame. Then Bicester will be taking on Ipswich B (Suffolk).
Ipswich B don't have the same standard of player that the
A team can call on but they are still useful so Bicester will have to
be careful if they are not going to lose both their matches and retire
to the bar. Assuming that things go the way I have predicted the group
will be between Andover Swallows and Ipswich B. again I am not really
to sure which of these teams will come through but if I had to go for
one then it would have to be Andover Swallows but it will only be by the
Suffolk Divas (Suffolk) start their warm up for the ladies
Interleague next month by taking part in the men's event. They will be
one of the fancied teams in the ladies event and what that means to their
first opponents Alsager (Staffordshire) had better not make the mistake
that a lot of men's teams do. If they do then they will get a rude awakening.
Alsager have been here a few times so they should know that
if you don't treat teams at this level with the utmost respect you pay
the price. That fact alone should be enough for Alsager to win the match
based on the fact that they are, in my view, the stronger team overall.
Milton Keynes A (Buckinghamshire) are probably the strongest
team in this set of three but that is no guarantee that you will win.
When the Suffolk divas play Milton Keynes the boys from Bucks will have
had the opportunity to "suss out" the opposition. Skipper Adam Marlow
will use his team to make sure they win the match.
That will set up a head to head with Alsager and although
I believe that Milton Keynes will in the end be too good for Alsager it
will only be at the back end of the match that Milton Keynes start to
stamp their authority on the match. When they do that they will book their
place in the last 32.
This group is about as close as the draw has come so far
to producing a "clash of titans" Weston (Somerset) are team with real
pedigree as are their opponents in the opening match in this group Lye
& Stourbridge (West Midlands) of the two Lye & Stourbridge have a better
record in the event but Weston are a very good team so this should be
a belter to watch. This should be a tight match right through to the end
but in the end I think that Lye & Stourbridge will just have the heavier
Village Pool League (Northamptonshire) will then be taking
on Weston with all due respect to Village Pool League, Weston should be
a bit to hot for them to handle which will mean in turn that Village Pool
League will have to beat Lye & Stourbridge in order to make progress.
That however, I feel will be a bridge too far for Village Pool League
to cross so it Lye & Stourbridge to win the group for me.
Sees the introduction to the Interleague of Wolverhampton
Wednesday B (West Midlands) as far as I know there has never been a B
Wolverhampton Wednesday team. However, their captain Fred Bannister is
no stranger to the event. Their first task if they are to emulate their
illustrious "A" string will be to take out Gosport (Hampshire) That won't
be too easy as I think Gosport will prove to be worthy opponents and will
in the end manage to beat Wolverhampton Wednesday B.
At this point enter Bedford A (Bedfordshire) who are a team
that likes to get out of the group and of the three teams in this group
are the most likely to emerge from it as the winners. Wolverhampton Wednesday
will give Bedford a good game but I feel they do not have sufficient strength
in depth to overcome a good Bedford A side.
Bedford will also have to dispose of Gosport if they are
to win the group but I don't think they will go that fortunately for Bedford
if they do beat Wolverhampton Wednesday a draw will be good enough for
Just a few tables away from their "A" team Milton Keynes
"B" open their account with a tough match against Shrewsbury (Shropshire).
The team had a fair amount of success when they were called A1 Telecom
and I feel they will have too much for Milton Keynes B to cope with. It
won't be walk over but neither do I think Shrewsbury will be threatened.
Milton Keynes chance to shine will come when they take Grove
Elite (West Yorkshire). These two teams will be a much more equal match
in terms of ability and I see it going to a 9-9 draw which will mean Shrewsbury
wi9ll have another relatively easy match against Grove Elite. Not because
Grove Elite will be push overs, they won't be, it will be because the
foundation for reaching the last 32 was laid down in their first match
This group, to be honest, is another of those groups where
you think who shall I go for because there is no team that looks like
it will dominate the other two.
Witney (Oxfordshire) have been here so often now that they
are part of the furniture at Yarmouth but they never quite seem to be
able to make the leap out of the group stage & into the knock out stage.
Dorchester (Dorset) Witney's opening opponents are a team I am not really
familiar with. But in terms of the Interleague this is probably a bit
of a local derby. When all is said and done Witney should have enough
to see of the challenge of Dorchester. That will mean that Luton (Bedfordshire)
will be playing Dorchester and I feel that Luton will be too strong for
Dorchester when the going gets tough and mistakes are punished. That will
mean to reasonably strong teams who have under achieved over the years
will face each other for a place in the last 32. of the two I think that
Luton will be the more committed. Witney may well feel that if they win
it might interfere with their quality time at the bar.
This grouping seems an easier forecast because it has a
proven winner in the shape of Godalming A (Surrey) over the past few events
they have become a fighting unit and has the ability within the team to
knuckle down and produce the result when it is required without going
in with all guns blazing. Their first opponents Wantage (Oxfordshire)
may well decide to join their Witney mates at the bar after the first
match. Not that I think that they are going to get trounced but I think
it will be a comprehensive enough win to knock the stuffing out of Wantage.
Wantage will take revenge out on City of Leicester (Leicestershire)
who are another of those teams that have been here a few times and should
really do better than they tend to do. I can't see that rend ending here
either I just think that Wantage will have too much to prove to let City
of Leicester get away with a win. So like so many other matches the opening
match for you team is so important that to lose it almost condemns you
to death before you start the second match. So that despite Wantage going
on to beat City of Leicester it will still be Godalming that take the
Northants County (Northamptonshire) versus East Herts II
(Hertfordshire) formally known as Hertford will be a tough match for both
teams both teams have been here a few times now and both have fallen over
at the last hurdle to getting through the group stage that neither team
will too much faith that this will be their time. Considering they seems
to make it through to all the Interleague finals shows they have good
teams but once they are here they don't seem to perform to their ability.
I am going to go for East Herts II to win the opening match.
Leaving Northants County to face Surrey Warriors (Surrey)
who, on form alone are in my view, clear favourites to win the group.
They will lay the foundations for that win against Northants County by
beating them fairly convincingly. Then the tough work starts when they
take on East Herts II. East Herts II are a team that has the power to
take out Surrey Warriors if they perform to their ability but their record
in the event leaves a big question mark.
I think the destiny of both teams will hinge on who settles
first the one that does that will win the match. Both of these teams have
in the past beaten better teams than they swill be facing here but each
match has a different ethos but I think Surrey Warriors will have just
enough to get past East Herts and get themselves into the last 32.
This should be a very interesting group to be part of with
Reigate A (Surrey) taking on Afford A (Staffordshire) in the opening match
which will be tight but I think that Reigate A should have the class to
get the better of Afford A but waiting in the wings for the loser of the
opening match will be Kettering (Northamptonshire) working out who will
win this group is probably the hardest group of the lot because they are
all very good teams and all three are capable of winning this group. Unusually
the outcome of this group will probably depend on the result of the second
match because if Afford win it will make things very tough for Kettering
but if they win then the head to head between Kettering and Reigate A
will be a hum-dinger. My personal feeling is that Kettering are the more
likely to win so I will go for them to beat Afford. On the back of the
win and with players like Bob Love, Graham Berrutto to put Kettering back
on course if things if this start to drift its hard to bet against Kettering.
Sees another strong grouping with Littlehampton (Sussex)
having a real tough opener against Rugby (Warwickshire) both these teams
have a long and successful record in the Interleague so it will be a real
downer for the losing team because they will both expect to beat the other.
Whoever does lose and my feeling is for Rugby but it is a close call.
Even tougher opposition awaits the in the shape of Trent Trophies B (Staffordshire)
Trent Trophies have done really well in the past couple
of events and will be keen to keep it going but Rugby will be keen to
recover from losing to Littlehampton but I can't see any joy for Rugby
in this match either.
That in turn will set up a real crunch match between Littlehampton
and Trent Trophies B and like so many of the matches in the group section,
this will be just so tight with neither team giving an inch to the other
but someone has to win and I think this time it will be Littlehampton
mainly because they have ***************in their line up.
Worcester Hotshots (Worcestershire) take on C.O.B.H.P.L.
B (Sussex) for the right not to be the first to have to play the third
team in the group Mexborough (South Yorkshire) I remember in April saying
that I thought that Mexborough would beat Trent Trophies A but they got
trounced. This time round their group does not contain Trent Trophies
A so I can see no further than Mexborough to win this group at a canter
with Worcester Hotshots to finish second.
This is another of the groups with two top quality teams
and one strong one Coventry A (Warwickshire will take on Walsall Select
(West Midlands) in most other groups Walsall would be the fancied teams
but I'm afraid they will have a real tough job to hang on Coventry's coat
tails. Fortunately for Walsall their overall strength should be enough
to stave of a mauling but I think Coventry will win with comparative ease.
When Rochester (Kent) take on Walsall they too should have
the beating of Walsall. It's unfortunate that Walsall got drawn into this
group because they are a better team than the results from this group
will show but somebody had to drawn into this group.
If Walsall will curse their luck then Rochester will wonder
what they have done to upset lady luck. They have been having a torrid
time of late in the Interleague, they keep shooting themselves in the
foot. It is a testament to the sheer quality in the team that despite
doing, by their standards, nothing for the past few events, crashing out
much earlier than they would have expected.
The last thing they would have needed is a tough group section
but that is exactly what the draw has handed out. The match between Coventry
A & Rochester who are both top 16 teams in the Interleague ranking list.
This will be a real crunch tie for both teams the quality
in the Rochester line up is enough to the living daylights out of any
team but when you look at the record books you wonder which of the Rochester
teams will turn up for the event, if it's the one that believes in it's
own ability then Rochester will win comfortably, if it's the other one
then I think Coventry A will send them crashing out of the event in the
group stage for the third time in four events. However, I am going to
go for the real Rochester to turn up and beat Coventry A
Sees one of the stars of the Interleague show East Herts,
take on Canterbury (Kent) in the opening group match. East Herts are a
team that has almost forgotten what it's like to lose in the group stage.
With the team getting stronger each year this team should have enough
to get past both these teams but it won't be without it's worrying moments.
Canterbury will be well aware of how good East Herts are
because they were here last year and saw them reach the semi final. For
that reason Canterbury will call on their experience to stop the Hertfordshire
team from having it all their own way. I still feel that despite Canterbury's
best efforts East Herts will still run out narrow winners.
Ilkeston (Derbyshire) here for the first time will not have
heard of East Herts or Canterbury so they will approach the match knowing
that they are a good team. I can see this match going one of two ways
and it will depend on how well Ilkeston start. If they get a few frames
over Canterbury in the early stage then they will go on and win the match.
If Canterbury get the better start then they will win the match. I think
the match will go to Ilkeston because of their freshness.
This will mean Ilkeston will the face East Herts for the
group. This is where East Herts Players will have to show their class.
Class is definitely in the team it has 2 professionals in Neil Toms &
Tony Vickers, one England International in Rob Southey, ex England Youth
player Danny Miller plus three players on the IPA tour and "new boy" Neville
Glover. With that kind of fire power to pick from it is easy to see why
they consistently make to the business end of events. I think Ilkeston
will give the "old Guard" a real shock but will just run out of steam
towards the end where you need it most of all. Ilkeston will have to wait
for a better opportunity to shine.
Wareham (Dorset) take on Leicester County (Leicestershire)
and I would have thought that Wareham would have what it takes to keep
Leicester County at arms length which will mean that Leicester County
have to go from the frying pan straight in to the fire as they take on
Imperial 2 (London)
They might be Imperial 2 but that does not mean they are
second class and with players like Pat O'Kane & Rob Mckay in the line
they are a team not to take lightly. As I said I can't see Leicester County
offering too much resistance. Although Neil Bassford, Leicester County's
skipper may not agree.
I can see a real tight match between Wareham & Imperial
2. Alan Sager has a good team but I think that Imperial will be a little
too strong for them when it comes to the nitty gritty
Coalville (Leicestershire) will take on Nuneaton (Warwickshire)
in the opening match of this group both these teams should be fairly evenly
matched and I would expect this match to be won by no more than a couple
of frames either way. Considering that I think the teams are close it's
difficult to actually chose who will win but I will go for Nuneaton simply
because they have Matt Cooke in their team and any team with players like
that in their team must be useful.
Tolworth's (Surrey) chances in this group depend on the
players available to Paul Brooks on paper he has players like Tour player
Jason Norris and Yarmouth veterans like Cliff Eastwood, Paul Wildman,
Andy Sutherland and Frank Strivens if they are all available and play
well then my money would go on them
Sees Brighton A (C.O.B.H.P.L. A ) (Sussex) take on City
of Coventry (Warwickshire) Brighton have an impressive array of big names
to choose from players like Pete Ashman, Morray Dolan, Dean Torode, Damian
Campsey and Darren Welfare. City of Coventry can't match that line up
and as a result will probably struggle as a result but Brighton can be
beaten however I don't think it will be Coventry who will do it. Unfortunately
I don't think it will be Riddings & District (Nottinghamshire) either.