Friday, 03 April 2020

Allim suffers British Open plate heartache

RAOUF Allim was the top performer of the Phyllis Court quartet that took on the nation’s best at the British Open last weekend, when he finished runner-up in the plate event.

The four-day tournament, which ran from Thursday morning at Southwick, near Brighton, began with the 32 competitors playing best of three games matches in four groups of eight players, with the top four in each group to qualify for a 16-player knock-out.

Allim was the only local player to be seeded in the top 16 and so had high hopes of making the mid-tournament cut at this, his first British Open. However, he started with a baptism of fire and was brushed aside by the reigning World Champion Reg Bamford in quick time.

Fellow Phyllis Court players Chris Roberts and Roger Goldring enjoyed good starts, with the former taking a game off England International Tobi Savage before going down 4-7, 7-5, 5-7 while Roger Goldring scored straight-games 7-5, 7-6 wins over 22-year-old Harry Dodge, an open finalist two years ago.

Phyllis Court’s fourth representative lost his opening match but then picked up a remarkable two-game match win against former world championship finalist, New Zealander Dennis Bulloch.

Day one finished with Allim and Roberts on two match wins and Goldring and Haydon on one each.

Day two was another bright and sunny day weather wise, and for Allim the sun shone on his croquet results too, as he clocked up two more match wins to end the day on the brink of qualification for the main event knock-out, but with the vastly experienced Bulloch left to play the following morning.

There was less to be happy with for the other three Phyllis Court players, as below par performances started to creep into their play.

Goldring got no change out of his match with Bamford who seemed to be going through the gears with one eye on the knock-out stage.

Day three dawned and Allim had his destiny in his own hand as he took on Bulloch, knowing that for the victor, qualification was as assured as a main event exit was for the loser.

The match was a long battle which culminated in Allim making a tactical error at hoop 11, where an attempt to score well and progress to the next hoop in the same single stroke, backfired when he hit the hoop leg. Bulloch gratefully scored, took position close hoop 12, and put him on the eventual victory course at 7-4, 2-7, 7-4.

Roberts, Goldring and Haydon were not seeded to qualify and that was how it worked out, and along with Allim, their attention moved on to the consolation plate event.

Here Allim and Roberts each scored three single game wins, with the former’s net hoops tally being crucial to win him a Plate semi-final berth, as Roberts missed out narrowly.

Allim won that semi and just got pipped at the penultimate hoop of the Plate final by American Matt Griffith.

Meanwhile there were contrasting results for Phyllis Court A and B in their double header matches with High Wycombe teams last week.

Playing at home, Phyllis Court B were drubbed 5-11 by High Wycombe Kestrels with only Mike Fensome winning 50 per cent of his games.

However, roles were reversed exactly in the away fixture, where Tony Peperell won all four of his games and debutant Jeff Smith won three, as PCC C scored a comprehensive 11-5 win against High Wycombe Kites.

The damage was done in the middle of the match when after losing the first round 3-1, Phyllis Court won all eight games in rounds three and four to storm into an unassailable lead 9-3. The last round was halved.

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