The Summer Season is here and Team Rileys go into week one confident of improving on their last campaign and a fourth place finish. Rileys have strengthened following the addition of Paul Coppock and Nick Powell in the close season – but have been handed the toughest of openings with the visit of last season’s champs. Rileys held Replay in their opening game of the Winter Season and with competition for places fierce will be aiming to at least repeat that showing.
Before a competitive ball is potted in anger disaster strikes with the revelation that champion fudgers Ollies are TR’s new stable-mates (if mates is the correct term). The news casts a dark shadow longer than those under Ian Davidson’s eyes as Rileys contemplate a season alongside an outfit with less charisma than a dead rat on a wet Wednesday.*
Team Rileys 0 Replay 1
With the spectre of Ollies looming large Rileys immediately fall one behind. But it is less about Ollies and more about a clinical Harry Roberts clearance. Rileys experiment with Andy Jones as their lead off stick but the dry break immediately puts Roberts in. Two shots seal the counter-dish. A pot down the rail is used to dislodge the one major problem ball. The yellow is moved but it is still left semi-awkward. However, a top pot into the far corner and perfect position seals the deal and Replay are up and running.
Team Rileys 1 Replay 1
Dave Walker takes centre stage with his proud record of 10 wins from 10 against Replay to protect. James Ruffell is given the task of downing Pubby and despite the dry break is first to go for broke. Ruffell gets down to the black with a neat clearance but misses a 3/4 length pot. Walker gifts the youngster a second bite at the cherry before being handed another reprieve. The Pubster even snooker’s himself while looking certain to clear moments later. But The Ruff has no bite on on the night and it’s Walker who takes advantage of a third miss on the black to sink the remaining balls after his snooker escape.
Team Rileys 1 Replay 2
NIck Powell had been dishing for fun in practice and a clearance looks on the cards against Anton Doyle before a shot and attempt to cannon an opposition ball for position goes slightly awry. Doyle then takes control and Replay are back in front.
Team Rileys 1 Replay 3
Steve Pardner is in a prime position in rack four. Pardner has options to take the simple pot into the middle or cut another one down the bottom rail. He chooses the former and promptly snookers himself on his final yellow. The momentum has switched and Cheshire C Blackball team-mate Mark Beeson goes on to take a rack that should have gone the other way.
Team Rileys 1 Replay 4
A strangely off-colour Jason King fails to hit his usual heights in a fairly scrappy fifth. Neil Robinson plays his trademark fudge game and eventually gets Replay over the line to increase the gradient of Rileys’ already uphill task.
Team Rileys 1 Replay 5
Paul Coppock is tasked with taking out Phil Clarke in the final game of an increasingly poor first half. Coppsy has a sniff but when Clarke covers a key bag Replay are in control once again. The clearance has a sense of inevitability about it and Replay look set for a crushing victory.
Team Rileys 1 Replay 6
Derrick Lawley and Jason King battle it out to see who can produce the most misses in rack seven. Kingy still appears certain to claim victory before sinking the white on what would have been his penultimate shot – and turns into his last. Delboy completes the simple clearance to give his side a draw at the very minimum.
Team Rileys 2 Replay 6
Harry Roberts is the man tasked with getting Replay over the line. But his attempt to pot the penultimate red goes wrong after forcing the issue in an attempt to gain prime position. Matt Norbury is coolness personified in the clearance. The pot is just about on for the black… and Replay are suddenly not quite so confident.
Rileys 3 Replay 6
A marathon 9th goes the way of Nick Powell after The Beast is tamed by Rileys’ newest recruit. Mark Beeson covers a key bag before Powell replies by throwing a yellow into the mix. Another one follows and the black finds its way into the congested corner before being hit out as the two players exchange intentional fouls. Beeson is first to force the issue but is unlucky not to see his cannon shot reap the expected rewards. Big Nick steps in with a composed finish to continue the fight-back.
Team Rileys 4 Replay 6
Replay’s nemesis Dave Walker makes it a dozen straight victories over the defending champions with a stylish clearance in the next to keep Rileys in the match. Walker’s pot down the rail is a beauty and Neil Robinson is the latest in an increasingly long list of Replay players to be Pubbied. Check out the VT.
Rileys 5 Replay 6
An absorbing penultimate rack is deservedly claimed by Andy Jones following some early sparring. The Butler is slightly unfortunate not to clear before playing an excellent shot off two yellows to cover the bottom bag. Phil Clarke reverts to the fudge but leaves the tiniest of gaps between his two covering balls. Jones punishes the mistake in fine style, taking the white off not one, not two but three cushions for prime position on the black and it’s 6-5.
Rileys 5 Replay 7
The final rack descends into a tactical battle when Dom Mills fails to get the desired kiss on his one bad red while looking for the counter. Rileys appear to be on their way to complete the comeback before Anton Doyle lays a perfect snooker – which he later admits was a touch fortunate – to switch the momentum. The Gypsy has one final chance when the black is left over the bag. But the tricky double on his penultimate red only ends up sinking the black and Replay escape with victory by the skin of their teeth.
*Ollies players are asked to note that in no way does this disparaging comment reflect on the cumulative character of the team (would Rileys do that?) but is in fact a reference to the perceived fudging style of their general play. Rileys are certain the relationship between the two sides will blossom into one of genuine true love given plenty of time.