DEVON have now plunged into the relegation zone, following a 21-15 defeat away at Cheshire, their third defeat on the bounce in the premier division of the British Inter County Championships.
The Ladies’ B side have been the mainstay of the Devon squad this season, winning all their matches, but against a Cheshire Ladies B side who had previously not won a match, crashed to a 5-1 defeat.
Anna Johnson was the lone winner when, after trailing 2-0, she triumphed 3-2 with a 20.29 average.
The Men’s B side now had it all to do and they started well when Lee Alderman (24.65) emerged a 4-2 winner after going 2-0 down.
FORM PLAYER: Mark Turner returned to form and produced a man-of-the-match performance for Devon B, winning 4-0 in 19, 15, 19 and 15 for a 29.47 average.
The hosts pulled one back only for Liam Goyne (25.72) to also show his recovery skills and despite trailing 3-0, he grinded out a 4-3 victory, with his best legs coming in 15 and 14.
From the next four sets, only one was claimed by a Devon player and Mark Vellacott was another who had to win the hard way and triumphed 4-3, despite trailing 3-1.
Cheshire now led 5-3 but Martin Horn (25.36) reduced the deficit with a 4-1 victory, securing the fifth and deciding leg in 15 with a checkout of 100.
Once again the hosts restored their two-point advantage before a man of the match performance from Mark Turner (29.47).
The Devon marksman emerged a 4-0 winner in 19, 15, 19 and 15, taking the fourth leg with an outshot of 104 before a worthy draw was claimed by Ben Chamberlain (25.45) after he was taken the full seven legs.
Cheshire led 11-7 overnight, and the Devon Ladies A side faced a strong Cheshire outfit, which included three-times world champion Anastasia Dobromyslova, and were yet to taste defeat following their previous three victories.
Hayley Brant (19.39) won the opener by a 3-1 margin and although the hosts levelled Maria O’Brien (29.47) restored the visitor’s advantage with an awesome display that brought her a 3-0 victory in 20, 18 and 13 with what proved to be the top average attained by any lady player in the British Isles.
Cheshire responded well but a draw was salvaged by a solid 3-0 victory from Merryl Dennis (24.24).
Four points now separated the two sides but that soon turned to six when Simon Stevenson was the only Devon winner from the first four sets, achieving a 4-1 success in 21, 15, 12 and 19, finishing the 12-darter with a kill of 100.
Paul Milford (26.01) halted the slide when he came from 3-0 down to win 4-3 before the next three went Cheshire’s way.
Some pride was restored though when Devon took three on the bounce which included a 4-3 success for Glyn Wells (22.88).
Matt Dickinson (26.98) followed with a 4-1 victory before Dave Matthews (29.56) produced a man-of-the match performance to win 4-1, which included a 12-dart leg which he finished by checking out at the first time of asking from 161.
Cheshire had the final say by taking the last point for an overall 21-15 victory.
Looking back at the stats, Devon lost eight points from games that Cheshire won by the odd leg.
On another day, the outcome could have been different, but chances at this level have to be taken.