Suffolk Saxons came up agonisingly short in their attempt to record a fourth successive AJ Bell National Badminton League victory on Monday night, losing out 3-2 to hosting Team Derby.
The home side, fielding three Rio Olympians on the night including Marcus Ellis, GB ‘s bronze medallist, are on paper the strongest side in the NBL.
Yet, in an evening of more drama and excitement, Saxons almost pulled off a sensational victory at the death in the deciding set of a very tight, but high quality men’s doubles event.
The narrow defeat for Saxons still keeps hopes alive of a play-off final place on February 8 in Milton Keynes, although they are now relying on results elsewhere.
In the opening event of the evening, Sean Vendy and Fee Teng Liew had the tough task of facing Olympians Elllis Lauren Smith.
While pulling a great game out of the bag, the young Saxons pair were pressured into a few too many errors by a quality Derby mixed pair, who won 3-1.
Stepping up for the women’s singles was Saxon’s Julie Finne Ipsen against a high-class opponent in Lyddia Cheeah from Malaysia.
In an accomplished performance, Finne Ipsen dismantled her opponent’s game to win through 3-0.
Young Saxons talent Johnnie Torjussen was next up in the singles against Olympian and Irish number one, Scott Evans.
Torjussen pretty much threw his full game into this match and put in an outstanding effort, holding chances to take either of the two opening games, before narrowly losing 3-0 and giving Team Derby a 2-1 match night lead.
The women’s doubles was billed as the match of the evening, and it fully lived up to expectation, with two unbeaten pairs this season facing up.
Finne Ipsen and Sarah Walker managed to find themselves 2-0 down in games, cruelly losing the second set on a power play.
However, as has been the case at other times this season, the Saxons pair gradually worked their opponents down and pressurised mistakes.
Taking the match to a tie-break had an inevitability once the pair had claimed the third set and changed the momentum of the match.
The tie-break was tense but the Saxons pair, as has been the case all season, seemed to have the answers along with a great all round game.
With the scores level, Saxons’ paired captain Andy Ellis and Vendy for the final game of the night as they took on Ellis and Nico Ruponen to decide the outcome.
The Saxons duo managed to force a tie-break decider, which the Derby pair clinched 5-2 to seal an overall victory.
The Suffolk now have one more league match to play, with Nottingham set to visit the Ipswich Corn Exchange on Monday, February 6.
Result: Team Derby 3 Suffolk Saxons 2
Sean Vendy/Fee Teng Liew lost to Marcus Ellis/Lauren Smith,3-1 (9-4 / 8-9 / 9-7 / 9-0)
Julie Finne Ipsen beat Lyddia Cheah Yi Yu 3-0 (6-9 / 5-9 / 5-9)
Johnnie Torjussen lost to Scott Evans 3-0 (9-8 / 9-7 / 9-6)
Julie Finne Ipsen/Sarah Walker beat Kate Robertshaw/Lauren Smith 3-2 (9-4 / 9-7 / 7-9 / 6-9 / 0-3)
Andy Ellis/Sean Vendy lost to Marcus Ellis/Nico Ruponen 3-2 (9-8 / 8-9 / 9-7 / 8-9 / 5-2)