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Pontefract are edged out in quality national semi-final

Chris Simpson, won his game for Pontefract in the National League play-off semi-finals.
Chris Simpson, won his game for Pontefract in the National League play-off semi-finals.

The National League semi-final between Pontefract and The RAC, London lived up to everybody’s best expectations, but ended in disappointment for the local club as they lost 3-2.

Laura Massaro gave Pontefract a great start. Taking on England team-mate Alison Waters in a match between two of the country’s most successful women players, she came out with a 3-1 victory.

British Under 23 champion Patrick Rooney was up against higher ranked Ben Coleman and held a 2-1 and 4-0 lead on a court that was ill-suited to his game, but in the end Coleman wore him down to level the match at one all.

James Willstrop faced Paul Coll in a repeat of the Commonwealth Games final he won. But on a court which suited Coll’s extreme athleticism and with Willstrop having struggled since the Gold Coast, it was the RAC who took a 2-1 lead.

Chris Simpson, who had just missed selection for the Commonwealth Games, then beat Scottish number one Alan Clyne 3-1 to leave the outcome in the hands of RAC’s Daryl Selby and Pontefract’s Saurav Ghosal.

Not only had Selby been in Australia, but he, like Willstrop had subsequently been to Wroclaw in Poland for the European Team Championships where he was unbeaten and helped the team to runners-up spot.

Ghosal, as Rooney had done, led 2-1 and a win for Pontefract looked possible. Selby, though, has a considerable reputation as a team player and from 5-all in the fourth he asserted, won the game to level the score, then always led in the fifth, winning 11-5 to take RAC to the final.

The sold out crowd, which included Pontefract supporters, had been regally entertained and the bringing together of such socially diverse clubs was only to the benefit of the sport.

With the Allam British Open in Hull this week, number one players from four countries trained at Pontefract last week – Saurav Ghosal, India’s best ever, Amanda Sobhy, America’s best ever, New Zealander Paul Coll and Canada’s Hollie Naughton.

Pontefract’s Sam Todd was part of the England Under 17 team which won the European Team Championship in Malmo, Sweden.

They beat Wales 3-0 in the quarter-final, Czech Republic 3-0 in the semi-final and France 2-1 in the final.

England also won the Under 15 title, beating Spain in the final 2-1.

Eight children from Airedale Junior School will attend the quarter-finals of the British Open tomorrow, funded by the Pontefract Squash Club’s Foundation.