The badminton match between Leeds men’s second team and York’s first team descended into somewhat of a farce after the final match of the tie was cut short.
Leeds began strongly, with new addition Kieran Kavi displaying impressive athleticism and ruthlessness to overcome his opponent 21-13, 21-13. David Steel then faced York’s top singles player, but after two tight games, York ultimately came out on top, winning 21-19, 16-21, 21-6.
Up next was the doubles. James Barren and Tom France struggled to get into the match early on, as York asserted their dominance. However, Leeds began to dictate more of the points, but it wasn’t enough to avoid a 21-11, 21-14 defeat. Blaise Goncalves and Jun Ho Gong were 8-2 behind at one stage, but increasingly began to manipulate their opponents around the court, storming back to take the first game. However, the York pair fought back and remained calm at key moments to level the scores and then went on to win the decider.
The action then returned to the singles and Kavi continued to impress, showing admirable composure when the pressure mounted to take the match. Steel also only needed two games to ensure victory as his shotmaking and patient build-up play was eventually rewarded.
In their second match, Goncalves and Gong were faced with a stern test and were forced into errors by their opponents’ aggressive style. However, they came roaring back and began to impose themselves far more, resulting in the most exciting game of the day. Agonisingly, it went York’s way, as Leeds were pegged back from a winning position at the last, 26-24.
Controversy then followed. Leeds were 4-3 behind in the tie, so a win in the final rubber was vital to salvage a result. France and Barren started strongly and wrapped up the first game. York managed to dig in to level the scores and were leading 4-1 in the final game before play was abruptly stopped and the net promptly taken down as the court had only been booked until 5pm. Discussions then took place about how the match was to be settled. York made the argument that since they were leading in the final game, they should be awarded victory.
However, Leeds replied that if York had arrived on time (and let’s face it, York to Leeds is not exactly a voyage), then the tie could easily have been completed in time.
The ending left a bitter taste in the mouth after what had been a closely-fought, high quality battle. We shall see what the outcome is.
Photo: Alice Greenfield