Saxons go top after last-gasp win against Bristol Jets at Ipswich Corn Exchange
- Credit: Archant
Fans of the Suffolk Saxons were kept on the edge of their seats throughout tonight’s National Badminton League fixture – but were rewarded with a win thanks to dogged determination by the players.
Anthony Clarke’s side have now won three games on the bounce in their debut professional season and now sit at the very top of the league table after defeating Bristol Jets 3-2.
The other new team in the AJ Bell NBL started the night bottom but were up for the challenge of taking on the high-flying Saxons, second only to Birmingham Lions in the league before the match began.
With Julie Finne-Ipsen, who played both women’s singles and doubles with Sarah Walker in the last two fixtures, unavailable due to commitments in her native Denmark, someone was needed to fill in.
Up stepped new signing Tine Baun, a former world number one in women’s singles who took to the court in that event right at the start of the night.
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She won in straight games against Jets’ Kirby Ngan – but later revealed she pulled a calf in the opening exchanges.
Her experience and quality shone through though and it was perhaps the injury which held her back slightly in the third game; the only time she was ahead then was when she won the final point to take the event.
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The 1-0 lead for the hosts was soon equalised though. The second event, the mixed doubles, saw Sean Vendy and Fee Teng Liew team up again after winning last week’s epic match against Loughborough Lightning.
Bristol’s Ben Lane and Emily Westwood worked the hosts hard from the off, taking the first, third and fourth games to secure their team’s first point of the night.
Vendy had a couple of confrontations with the chair umpire over disputed line calls – including one which he said his opponents called ‘in’ in his favour when the line judge called ‘out’.
Joel Douse looked to put the Saxons back in front in the men’s singles but it seemed the tide was going to stay in Bristol’s favour.
David Jones took the first game before Douse fought back. The pair then exchanged games again to set up a first to five final game.
Douse worked hard throughout but Jones always seemed to have an answer to his attacks, pulling ahead whenever the home man got back in the game.
A close fifth game earnt an extra point for the Jets who then had the chance to put the night to bed in the women’s doubles.
Baun’s injury kept her out of this event, Liew being substituted in to partner Walker.
It seemed obvious to the 300-plus crowd this was a new pairing, the ladies initially getting in each other’s way and having a couple of communication mix-ups in the first game. However they quickly adapted to each other’s game and ensured Saxons got the first point on the board.
The second game looked to be won early on with the Suffolk pair 8-2 up, but the Jets team of Mizuki Fuji and Jessica Hopton shocked them by winning seven straight points to level the event.
That was lesson learnt for Walker and Liew, who took the third game smartly and won the event in the fourth – even if it did get to 8-8.
As it was against Loughborough, it fell to the last event to settle the fixture, this time the Saxons’ fate resting on the shoulders of Vendy and Andy Ellis in the men’s doubles.
It was almost a reversal of last week, when Suffolk recovered from 2-0 down to win 3-2.
After 9-5 and 9-6 wins in the first two games, Ellis and Vendy were knocked back by Bristol’s Christopher Colesand Richard Eidestedt who also won two on the bounce to make it 2-2.
The fifth game, deciding the event and the fixture, started with a Bristol power play.
It could have given them match point had they won, but they did not, and that was all the invitation Ellis and Vendy needed.
Buoyed by their opponent’s failed attempt to get ahead early in the decider the Saxons duo won three points in a row to notch up the home team’s third straight match night victory.
The other game tonight, Nottingham University v Team Derby, ended in a home win. This is good news for the Saxons, who were just a point above the latter side going into match night four, but are now two ahead.
On Tuesday Birmingham, who dropped to third having now played a game less than Suffolk and Derby, take on Loughborough.
If the Saxons’ beaten opponents from last Monday can do them a favour and restrict their hosts to a single point, Clarke’s men will remain at the league’s summit.