Warwickshire Men's 1st team took on the reigning Midland League Champions Derbyshire at Walmley GC on Sunday 4th July.
The players representing Warwickshire were:
Luke Allen – Olton GC
Dan Bardsley – Moor Hall GC
Rob Bardsley – Moor Hall GC
Warren Bladon – Kenilworth GC
Stuart Bloxham – Coventry Hearsall GC
Steve Creed – Stratford-on-Avon GC
Tom Cleaton – Rugby GC
Josh Davenport – Maxstoke Park GC
Tom Ibbertson – Coventry Hearsall GC
Mike Pell – Olton GC
With cloudy conditions and the threat of heavy rain showers and thunderstorms during the day the morning foursomes began with Josh Davenport & Tom Cleaton taking on Derbyshire Captain Dan Housley & Will Harvey. A very hot start with early birdies saw Derbyshire 3up after 5 holes. This lead strengthened to 4up after 10.
But Josh & Tom dug deep to reduce that deficit to 2 holes. Holes ran out and Derbyshire won 2&1. Second pairing was the all Coventry Hearsall duo of Tom Ibbertson and Stuart Bloxham. Again Derbyshire found their form earlier than Warwickshire and were 2up after 5 holes. Putts did not drop for Warwickshire and the visitors built a 3up lead after 11 holes. Similar to Match one, Stuart and Tom reduced the deficit to 2 holes but it was too late and Derbyshire won 2&1 again.
Match 3 featured the all Olton pairing of regular first teamer Mike Pell with the newly crowned Warwickshire Matchplay Champion Luke Allen making his 1st Team debut.
Derbyshire got an early lead after 5 holes but the match was all square after 7. A mistake on the tricky dog leg left 10th hole meant 1up to Derbyshire again. They would not let go of that lead and recorded a hard earned 1up victory. Good effort for Mike and Luke against a very strong and experienced pairing of Nick Newbold and Ryan Wesselingh. The Bardesley brothers from Moor Hall know Walmley very well but once again Derbyshire started better and were 1up after the Par 3 5th. This lead increased to two after 9 holes but a win on the 10th kept the Warwickshire spirits up. A fantastic tap-in Eagle on the Par 5 12th followed by a two putt birdie on thirteen put James Booth and Liam Sinnott in control of the match stood on the 14th tee. Again, Warwickshire battled hard but Derbyshire were too strong and cruised to a 4&3 win.
Final foursomes pairing saw Warren Bladon and Steve Creed take on the usual Derbyshire pairing of Darren Coop & Paul Tatlow. Warwickshire needed a win to stop a morning whitewash for the visitors. 2up after 5 holes and 3up after 7 was a good start for Warwickshire, however Derbyshire birdies reduced that lead to 1up after 11 holes. A Derbyshire birdie on 13 meant match all-square but Warwickshire faired better in the last 5 holes winning three and getting Warwickshire's first match point on the board.
Morning Foursomes – Warwickshire 1 Derbyshire 4
With Derbyshire well ahead, Warwickshire needed a fast start to the afternoon singles. Tom Cleaton took the lead role and played well to be 2up after 8 holes and then 3up after 12. But a couple of loose shots from Tom and a Derbyshire birdie turned the match on its head and a 1up win for Derbyshire. Unlucky Tom!!
Tom Ibbertson is the recently crowned Coventry Hearsall Club Champion and continued his excellent form with 4 birdies and an eagle to record an emphatic 6&5 victory. Stuart Bloxham played pretty solid par golf but came up against a big hitting accurate machine that also putted well. Too strong on the day and Josh Ashton for Derbyshire won comfortably 5&4.
With a match score of Warwickshire 2 Derbyshire 6 we had a massive hill to climb, so the mid-order had to have some success to keep this match going. Dan Bardsley battled brilliantly through his round being 1 down after 11 but turned it around winning 1up on 18. Josh Davenport was comfortably ahead for the front nine but was all square after 11. Solid golf for the last 7 holes saw Josh win by 2&1. Mike Pell was all-square after 5 holes and then 11 holes but won the 12th to get ahead. He would not let that lead go and one 1up. Rob Bardsley was at No.7 and played lovely golf to be 3up after 7 and 4up after 11. Losses on 12 & 13 tightened the game but Rob held on well to record an important 2&1 win. So four mid-order Warwickshire wins and the match was tied at 6 – 6 with three matches left on the course.
Steve Creed at No.10 was playing against Derbyshire stalwart Paul Tatlow, a pretty tight affair for the front nine with Creedy just ahead. 2Up after 11 and further wins on 12 & 13 gave Steve control of the match, he would prevail a 4&3 winner. Warren Bladon played high quality golf against Nick Newbold. Fantastic birdie 3's on the 7th by both players but Nick was in control and remained 2up after 11 and 3up after 13. Warren continued to battle hard and reduced the lead to 1down after 16. After two perfect drives on 17, Nick from Derbyshire hit the flag with his second shot and rested just 18inches from the hole. Warren wedged to 15ft but could not hole his birdies putt and Nick calmly holed out for a 2&1 victory.
So with one game left it was 7 – 7, debut man Luke Allen for Warwickshire against the very experienced Darren Coop from Derbyshire. All-square after 6 holes but Luke would lose the 7th to a par. That score remained the same until the 16th where Luke chipped beautifully for a winning birdie and then holed a 10ft par putt on 17 to take the match up the par 3 last at Walmley. With all players and officials watching huge pressure was on both players. Luke hit it right into the greenside bunker and Darren hit it left into another greenside bunker. Luke splashed out to 10ft and Darren to 5ft, Luke shaved the hole and then Darren made his 5ft putt to win his game and the match for Derbyshire by 8 to 7. Well played Darren and the Derbyshire team. A great effort from Warwickshire to take the match to the wire after such a dominating early performance from Derbyshire.
My thanks to Walmley GC for hosting this fixture and providing a course in excellent condition. Personal appreciation to Pete Clarke for assistance on the day, Warwickshire President Mark Reynolds for his attendance and support, John Duncombe and Rob Soen (Warks Seniors Captain) for supporting too.
With certain League results the Midland League is still wide open after two matches and within grasp for Warwickshire. Our next match is away against Worcestershire at Moseley GC on Sunday 1st August 2021. All support welcome for an away fixture !!