Essex and Leicestershire and Rutland have teed up a four-team shootout for silverware after inspired wins on day two of the English Boys’ County Finals.
Both counties lost their opening fixtures to Northumberland and Gloucestershire respectively and knew they needed wins on the second day of competition to salvage their hopes of success.
Under pressure, both teams achieved just that around the excellent match play venue of Coxmoor Golf Club in Nottinghamshire.
Leicestershire and Rutland ran out convincing 6-3 winners against Northumberland helped by a clean sweep of all three morning foursomes matches.
Essex then pulled off a nail-biting win against Gloucestershire thanks to Marlie Read two-putting from fully forty yards on the final green and halving the hole with Louis Ross to secure a one-up win.
That precious point gave Essex a 5-4 match victory and ensured that all four counties go into the last day’s play knowing that a win could secure them the title.
In the event of teams finishing level on match points after the final day, game points will be used to decide the winner.
If the teams still can’t be separated by game points, then it comes down to the head-to-head result of the match between those two counties.
After watching his team ensure a thrilling final day scenario with the win over Gloucestershire, Essex team captain Paul Prebble praised his team’s spirit.
“The results have gone the way we needed them to,” confirmed Prebble.
“The boys played great today and they deserved it after the effort they put in over two days.
“It gives us a chance and it’s a bonus that Leicestershire won because it now becomes a shootout with everyone having a chance.
“I’m so, so proud of them.
“I’ve got a 14-year-old in Charlie Croker and 15-year-old Henry Styles playing under 18 golf.
“We’re here a year earlier than I hoped and this team are performing well above the expectations.”
Croker showed age is no barrier to performance by halving both his foursomes and singles matches.
Will Horne (main image) and Lewis Wright contributed the full two points from their games just when it mattered most.
In the day’s first match, Leicestershire and Rutland got off to a fast start and never looked back.
Charlie Box, William Plant and playing skipper Sam Haynes-Coote (pictured below) all chipped in with two points from their games.
Northumberland rallied to half the afternoon singles session, but the damage had been done with a zero from three result in the morning foursomes.
Leicestershire and Rutland team captain Gary Baines reckons the final day is wide open and, given the standard of golf on show this week, it will come down to the smallest of margins to decide the destiny of the trophy.
“I’ve watched my guys for two years and collectively we couldn’t play any better than we did today in the foursomes,” he said.
“They were holing makeable putts and not missing the five footers.
“This afternoon it was touch and go for a spell, but I have to say there has been some fantastic golf. There have been birdies all over the place.
“I’m so pleased for the boys led by captain Sam.
“All the team has contributed and that’s so good to see.
“It could conceivably come down to match points tomorrow and that would be interesting.”
Tomorrow’s order of play will see Northumberland face Gloucestershire in the first match with Essex then taking on Leicestershire and Rutland.
Leicestershire and Rutland v Northumberland
- Leicestershire and Rutland 3-0 Northumberland
- Leicestershire and Rutland 3-3 Northumberland
- Leicestershire and Rutland 6-3 Northumberland
Essex v Gloucestershire
- Essex 1.5-1.5 Gloucestershire
- Essex 3.5-2.5 Gloucestershire
- Essex 5-4 Gloucestershire
Photography credit: Leaderboard