Yorkshire Squash League - Poignant night at Pontefract while Dunnington maintain strong defenace of title

It was a poignant night at Pontefract Squash Club on Wednesday as the evening of the 2nd team's Yorkshire Premier League match with Chapel Allerton 1 was dedicated to Chris Allinson.

Pontefract Squash Team pay their respects to Chris Allinson. Picture submitted

Chris, 28, passed away unexpectedly a week previously having played squash just a few hours before. He was a well-known figure at Pontefract and leaves behind a six-year-old daughter, Millie.

Tributes to the former Yorkshire academy cricketer included that of former England captain Michael Vaughan, who tweeted: “This is awful news. Such a great lad. Thoughts are with all his close family.”

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On Wednesday, £290 was raised for Millie through donations from players and spectators. Pontefract 2 players wore specially-made black shirts on the night as a mark of respect for Chris, who played for Guisborough Squash Club in Teesside.

On the night, Pontefract 2 slipped to a 14-10 defeat to fourth-placed Chapel Allerton 1. Youngster Ben Beachill lost a tight five-setter with Phil Young before the visitors’ own teenager Ben Merchant and third string Jayden Gough wrapped up the five bonus points.

Pontefract’s No 2 Adam Taylor restored some pride by sweeping aside Chapel A’s captain and former world No.3 Simon Parke, while the prodigal Sam Todd, the newly-crowned England U17 junior champion, beat Kiwi Joe Williams at the top of the order to further reduce the victory margin.

At the top, Dunnington continued their inexorable march towards a successful defence of their title by winning their seventh match in seven, destroying Abbeydale 20-0.

Even the absence of usual No1 Chris Simpson, away competing on the PSA Tour in Qatar, couldn’t prevent Dunnington winning all five matches in straight games against the second-bottom side from Sheffield.

Benjamin Cross and Danny Hockborn maintained their 100 per cent YPL records this season with wins over Ben Farnsworth and Nick Wall Snr respectively, Ed Shannon and Julian Tomlinson both won their fourth successive YPL matches and top string Rob Downer, the world No 141, dismissed the challenge of Adam Turner in rapid fashion.

Second-placed Hallamshire lost for the second week in a row, despite a third appearance of the season from Nick Matthew. The gap between the Sheffield club and Dunnington is now an ominous 31 points.

Ten-time British champion Matthew took care of England’s fourth-ranked junior Ben Smith in three quick games but, by that time, Hull & East Riding had sealed the victory.

The visitors’ Paul Norton and Yusef Forster both won cracking five-setters at the bottom of the order, and although Lancastrian youngster Oscar Beach replied for Hallamshire with a straight-games win at No3, Ben Sockett toppled Alex Cutts in rapid fashion.

That win lifts Hull & East Riding up to fifth, one point ahead of Pontefract 2 and two ahead of Queens Club, who won a tight battle with third-placed Barnsley 15-6.

Queens’ No5 Danny Bray took care of Polly Clark, who stepped up from Barnsley’s 2nd team for the night, before the South Yorkshire club’s Hollie Naughton won a four-game battle with former world No 15 Sarah Campion.

Queens’ England coaching team duo of David Campion and Josh Taylor were both 3-0 victors – over world No26 Millie Tomlinson and Tom Bamford respectively – meaning Welshman Elliott Morris-Devred’s top-string win for Barnsley over Connor Sheen was merely a consolation.

Wednesday night’s other match-up saw Pontefract 1 lick their wounds after last week’s painful loss to Pontefract 2 by dismissing winless bottom side Chapel Allerton 2.

Early wins for Alex Hodgetts and Sam Wileman laid the platform for Pontefract before Taminder Gata Aura’s 3-0 victory ensured the five bonus points were bagged. Chapel Allerton got three much-needed points at fourth string but world No 102 Patrick Rooney polished off Dominic Hamilton at No1 to complete a resounding away triumph.