DESPITE getting off to a flying start, Oxfordshire ended up losing 127-121 away to Kent in their opening Middleton Cup match of the season.

The visitors flew out of the blocks, taking a 17-shot lead after five ends.

After 15, Oxon were still six shots clear.

But Kent turned it around to secure a six-shot success in the South B Group game at Marden, even though the rinks were shared.

They took 16 points to Oxon’s six.

The Banbury Borough rink, skipped by Mark Sykes, trailed by seven shots at 14 ends, but five consecutive wins saw them squeeze home by a single shot.

Ryan Buckett, returning from Berkshire after eight years, had an interesting start to his Middleton Cup campaign.

After 15 ends, his rink led by ten shots despite only losing two (by seven and six shots), before winning by nine.

Oxon’s other success saw Mark Charlett’s rink charge to a 14-shot lead after 13 ends.

They saw their lead cut to one before getting home by four shots.

Elsewhere, Ray Gaskins’s rink won more ends than their opponents, but went down 21-19.

Baden Sparkes and Co led by eight shots after ten ends. Thereafter they won only two more ends and lost by nine.

Paul Sharman’s team led by one shot after 15 ends, but failed to win another end and also lost by nine.

Oxon’s debutants Alan Carter (Banbury Central), Steve Aldren (Carterton) and Jim Bland (Shiplake) all performed well, as did Andy McIntyre (West Witney) on his return to the team

Kent 127 (16pts), Oxfordshire 121 (6)

(Oxon rink scores)

Rink 1: J Abercrombie, G Schwab, AJ Docherty & M Sykes won 21-20.

Rink 2: A Carter, T Prew, S Cooper & R Gaskins lost 21-19.

Rink 3: K Holloway, S Aldren, K Alder & B Sparkes lost 27-18.

Rink 4: J Bland, M Brain, N Rae-Walsh & R Buckett won 27-18.

Rink 5: S Watts, P Mabbutt, W Parker & P Sharman lost 21-12.

Rink 6: M Nash, A McIntyre, D Leighfield & M Charlett won 24-20.

Oxon have made changes for the second Middleton Cup match against Sussex at Oxford City & County this Saturday (2pm).

Steve Witcombe, Jason King, Chris Gilkes and Gary May come into the side, while there are only two unchanged rinks.

Oxon team – Rink 1: M Nash, D Leighfield, S Cooper, R Gaskins. Rink 2: J Bland, M Brain, N Rae-Welsh, R Buckett. Rink 3: J Abercombie, G Schwab, AJ Docherty, M Sykes. Rink 4: S Witcombe, A McIntyre, J King, M Charlett. Rink 5: K Holloway, K Alder, C Gilkes, B Sparkes. Rink 6: S Watts, P Mabbutt, G May, P Sharman.

OXFORDSHIRE’S men suffered their first friendly defeat of the season when they lost 117-111 to Somerset at West Witney, despite a 21-shot success for skip Alan Ley’s rink.

Playing his first game for the county was David Byers (Watlington), while Bill Jarvie was awarded his 50-game badge.

Oxfordshire 111, Somerset 117 (Oxon rink scores): B Bloomfield, A Fleming, D Wedge, P Robbins lost 22-15; R Slater, J Stephens, L Days & M Brain lost 26-13; B Squires, B Jarvie, M Oliver & I Whelpton lost 24-13; T Jupp, A Hall, M Morris & R Barnett won 22-14; C Lewis, D Byers, J Lucas & B Gilkes lost 22-18; B Willoughby, T Gripe, G Hooker, A Ley won 30-9.

CAROL Gaskins was the star as Oxfordshire Ladies defeated Bucks 126-101 in the first match of their Johns Trophy campaign at Waddesdon.

Gaskins led her rink to a 21-shot success, while their three other winning skips were Donna Knight, Carol Penson and Marion Darton.

Oxon 126 (18 pts), Bucks 101 (4 pts) (Oxon skip scores): D Knight 23, V Linton-Phare 16; C Gaskins 29, S Smith 8; C Penson 22, V Room 19; W Cross 15, J Sussex 19; M Darton 20, M Price 19; J Berry 17, L Throup 20.

Meanwhile, Irene Whatmore (Witney Town) and Pam Shepherd (Banbury Central) teamed up to win the Blay Trophy pairs competition held at Witney Town.

In the final, they won 11-10 against Barb Singh, from the host club, and Pam Faulkner (West Oxford).


Quarter-finals: C Bloomfield & L Coles 16, E Jones & L Cooper 3; B Singh & P Faulkner 12, J Aldridge & A Fleming 7; I Whatmore & P Shepherd 8, C Thornhill & J Gilbert 7; W Sandy & P Buckland 8, B Morgan & P Willoughby 7. Semi-finals: Whatmore & Shepherd 10, Sandy & Buckland 7; Singh & Faulkner 11, Bloomfield & Coles 5. Final: Whatmore & Shepherd 11, Singh & Faulkner 10.