Excellent Devon win, but BICC relegation is inevitable
IT WAS, without doubt, Devon’s finest achievement of the season, but sadly victory in their final match of the British Inter County Championships campaign against runners-up Lancashire, could not help them preserve their Premier division status.
The Ladies B team were again rampant, and a 5-1 victory helped them top their table with seven wins and a draw from their nine fixtures.
Chrissie Kinnaird (19.99) won the opener 3-2, taking the deciding leg in 17, followed by 3-0 victories from Kelly Gabriel (18.11) and Karen Matthews (18.11).
Jodie Hawton (17.51) won with the loss of just a single leg before Tracy Ware (15.99) came from behind and edged out her opponent 3-2.
LAST POINT: Danny Allen claimed Devon's last point of the season to force a 6-6 draw in the Men's A fixture which was enough to give the hosts a 20-16 victory over premier division runners-up Lancashire.
The Men’s B side lost the first two sets of their encounter only to draw level with 4-1 victories for both Mark Turner (23.57) and Scott Hutchinson (26.31).
The visitors took the next but Devon dug deep and won three on the bounce, even though Mark Vellacott (22.98), Kevin Elliott (22.16) and Kevin Winter (25.94) all had to go the full distance.
The last four sets were shared with Devon achieving 4-2 successes through Scott Lawrey (25.43) and Billy Evans (18.68) to win 7-5 and ensure an overnight 12-6 advantage against the Premier division high-flyers.
The visitors cut back the deficit to 14-10 when they won the Ladies A match 4-2 with Devon having Hayley Brant (15.35) winning 3-1 and Maria O’Brien achieving an excellent 25.05 average when winning 3-0.
The England international took the second leg in 15, her last nine darts scoring 140, 140, before checking out at the first time of asking from 120.
The Men’s A side had the worst start possible start when they lost the first four sets which enabled Lancashire to tie the match at 14-14.
Ben Chamberlain (26.32) halted the slide when he came from 2-0 down to win 4-2, aided by a leg in 11 and was followed by a 4-3 victory from Liam Goyne (23.53).
But the visitors were still chipping away, and they won the next two to draw level once again at 16-16.
But the hosts showed form that has been missing for most of the season and took the remaining four sets for a 6-6 draw and an emphatic 20-16 team victory.
Paul Palmer (24.47) and David Matthews (25.28) both won 4-2 before Matt Dickinson (23.34) emerged a 4-1 winner.
In the very last encounter of the season, Danny Allen (25.47), trailing 3-1, pulled out all the stops to win by the odd leg in seven.
This victory was Devon’s “finest hour”, but in the end, they were five points away from safety and will begin in September in division one.
But if they can replicate this form in the new campaign, they have every chance of regaining their premier division status at the first time of asking.