DEVON suffered a crushing blow to their promotion hopes in division one of the British Inter County Championships when they went down to a heavy defeat away to Hertfordshire.
Before the fixture, Devon were only one point behind the joint leaders but now drop down to sixth place, 12 points behind Hertfordshire who are now out on their own at the top of the table.
Uncharacteristically, Devon’s two ladies’ sides could only manage three points from a possible 12, but you have to go back to March 2016 to find the last time that both ladies’ teams lost in the same match, when they were defeated by Lancashire.
The fixture did start brightly for the visitors though when Cat Callard (16.16) emerged a 3-0 winner and Tracy Ware (20.34) came from 2-0 down to win 3-2.
Devon then led 2-1 but did not win another point until the fourth set of the Men’s B encounter when Tom Humphrey (23.86) emerged a 4-0 winner, including a leg in 17 which he finished in two darts from 100.
Only John Burton (23.54) could muster a point from the next four before Devon made the scoreline a little more respectable when taking three of the last four.
Mark Vellacott (23.53) hit a checkout of 114 in a 4-3 success followed by a 4-1 victory from Terry McDermott (23.48).
Although the hosts took the penultimate point, Lee Hellings (24.02) won 4-2 to close the first day with Devon trailing 7-11.
Maria O’Brien (23.12) won the only Devon point from the Ladies’ A encounter, emerging a 3-0 winner after taking the opening leg in 18 when checking out from 115.
Now trailing 16-8, Devon had it all to do, but disappointingly, the Men’s A team lost the first five points and with it the match.
But their heads didn’t drop and all credit to the remaining players who dug in and took six of the last seven, accruing excellent averages along the way.
Man-of-the-Match Paul Milford (31.97), pictured above, halted the slide with a 4-2 victory in 18, 16, 14 and 15 followed by consecutive 4-0 success from Scott Hutchinson (26.03) and Ben Chamberlain (26.37).
Hertfordshire then won their last point before Paul Palmer (25.05) claimed the next in four straight legs.
Keelan Kay (24.10), playing in only his second A team fixture, led 3-0 only for his opponent to level, but with a strong belief in his own ability, the teenager won the deciding leg in 16.
David Witt (26.06) claimed the last set of the match 4-2 to give the Men’s A side a creditable a 6-6 draw but sadly a 22-14 defeat.
But Devon need to put this disappointment behind them very quickly as their next fixture comes in three weeks’ time when they host Oxfordshire, a team who are still looking for their first victory.