Northumberland and Gloucestershire have made a winning start in their quest to claim a maiden victory at the English Boys’ County Finals.
Under leaden skies and with morning drizzle and a chill afternoon breeze making it tricky for the players around the heathland terrain at Coxmoor Golf Club, the winners of the northern and south west regions delivered big performances on day one.
Out of the four qualifiers for this year’s finals, only Essex had previously tasted success in this event. The last of their four wins came in 2014.
However, Essex went down to Northumberland by a 5.5-3.5 margin and Gloucestershire put paid to Leicestershire and Rutland’s hopes of a fast start with a 6-3 win.
Essex took a 2-1 lead from the three morning foursomes, but Northumberland came storming back to win four and a half points out of six in the afternoon singles.
Harrison Sewell (pictured below) contributed two points from his two games while James Conn chipped in with a win in foursomes and a half from his singles match.
Angus Buchanan, Morgan Blyth and Cameron Thoburn were the other points scorers in the singles.
That pleased team captain Phil Ridden who heaped praise on his team for continuing to upset the odds.
He said: “After this morning’s shaky start, to stand here at the end of the day with a win was really good. I can’t fault the lads.
“You come here not knowing what to expect – both teams were as good as each other, we’ve just got over the line in the afternoon.”
Northumberland are enjoying a resurgence in men’s and boys’ golf with both squads making their respective 2021 County Finals.
“It could be a good year – we might do the double,” added Ridden.
“Even if one team won it would be a good result.
“Both teams qualifying is great for our county – you just hope that the boys or the men can go that one step further.”
Gloucestershire had more of a cushion from the early games – heading out after lunch against Leicestershire and Rutland having won two and drawn one of the three morning foursomes.
After a nervy start to singles, they eventually came good to win that session too.
Josh Millington and Milan Reed (pictured below) led the way by claiming full points from their foursomes and singles matches.
Team captain Mark Powell has helped oversee a change in Gloucestershire’s fortunes over the past decade as the county junior manager.
And he’s assembled a squad for 2021 that is both united and fearless in their outlook.
“I’ve come with ten players, not just seven. The whole squad,” he confirmed.
“And, where possible, they have been together on every hole supporting each other and as a group we have dug out a good result.
“It looked a bit dodgy for the front nine this afternoon, but they came back and have done us proud.
“These boys don’t fear anyone.
“I’ve been eight times to the finals and this is the best squad we’ve had. We may have had better indivdiuals in the past, but this is the best squad.
“We’ve come close before and it would be nice to get over the line.”
On day two of the three day round robin series, Northumberland will face Leicestershire and Rutland while Gloucestershire come up against Essex.
Northumberland v Essex
- Northumberland 1-2 Essex
- Northumberland 4.5– 1.5 Essex
- Northumberland 5.5–3.5 Essex
Leicestershire and Rutland v Gloucestershire
- Leicestershire and Rutland 0.5-2.5 Gloucestershire
- Leicestershire and Rutland 2.5–3.5 Gloucestershire
- Leicestershire and Rutland 3–6 Gloucestershire
Photography credit: Leaderboard