It was another case of so-near-and-yet-so-far for Leicestershire’s Foxes on day four of County Week against Derbyshire, with an agonising 5-4 loss on Thursday.
Gemma Parkes-Walley and Helen Lowe were Leicestershire’s first pair and as the match began it was clear that they were facing a Derbyshire pair in great form. Making few mistakes themselves, Gemma and Helen found themselves 3dn after 3. Steadying the ship through 4, 5 and 6 the Foxes then reduced the arrears to 2dn on 7 after a well-played hole. The match remained tight until the 12th and 13th when Derbyshire capitalised on some uncharacteristic Leicestershire errors to take a 4up lead. Our pair then showed the fighting attitude displayed by the team all week to steady the ship through 13 and 14 before winning 15 and 16 to take the match back to 2dn. A sterling comeback seemed on the cards, but Derbyshire held their nerve to halve 17 and close out 2&1.
The second match saw Ellie York and Kirsten Thorpe up for Leicestershire and for the second day running, they had a tricky start to their match, finding themselves 2dn after 3. But four wins in 5 holes on 4 through 8 saw them lead 2up at the turn. A rare mistake off the tee on 12 saw Derbyshire pull back to 1dn and after halving 13 in par, they struck a body blow by winning 14 to return the match all square. Undeterred, our young Foxes took 15 to regain the lead and retained it through 17. Caz Parkes-Walley and Jo Mayfield having already won their match, the balance of power in the match was down to a nerve jangling par 5 18th. A great drive from Ellie and superb approach from Kirsten put them in prime position after a wayward approach from Lincolnshire. An excellent recovery pitch meant Leicestershire needed a two-putt birdie to win the match which they duly delivered
Caz Parkes-Walley and Jo Mayfield were in scintillating form in the final foursomes pairing for Leicestershire, racing to a 4up lead after 5 holes. However, unexpected mistakes on 6 and 7 saw them hauled back to 2up at the turn. A holed shot from the fairway for eagle on 10 gave them a 3up lead and they never looked back, amassing a haul of four birdies and the eagle in a 5&4 win.
Taking a 2-1 lead into the afternoon singles, the Foxes were led off by Karen Haynes in the afternoon singles against the long-hitting Frankie Bougen of Derbyshire. Karen played very well to be 1dn at the turn. Moira Page was also down at the turn, playing extremely well but battling an opponent enjoying more than her fair share of good fortune and course conditions where good shots were not always rewarded. However, needing to secure three points for the win after the morning foursomes, Leicestershire were looking good just before halfway, with Gemma all square, and Caz, Kirsten and Olivia Barrs holding narrow advantages.
Enduring the hottest afternoon of the week, the Foxes were forced to battle all the way by a determined Derbyshire. Karen remained 1dn until the 16th when her likely-par was bettered by a fine downhill birdie putt to take her 2dn. Reaching the par 5 17th greenside bunker in two, an excellent long bunker shot set up a possible birdie to take it to 18 but the putt slipped agonisingly past the lip and gave Derbyshire their first point of the afternoon. Moira also succumbed to her opponent, but Kirsten had prospered on the back nine to open a 4up lead by the 13th. Gemma, Caz and Olivia’s matches were nip and tuck all the way, giving the band of Leicestershire supporters plenty of entertainment. Gemma and Caz were both 1dn after 17 but showed determination and skill to win 18 for halved matches. Unfortunately for the Foxes, Olivia’s opponent found a burst of form to take three holes on the bounce from 14-16 and win 3&2. Kirsten again showed the spirit that has dominated Leicestershire’s performances this week by playing through a troublesome ankle injury late in her match. She also had to withstand a strong fightback from Derbyshire, who took the match to the 18th. After both players found fairway bunkers off the tee, a well-played hole saw Kirsten hole a gritty 6’ putt for par to halve the hole and win 1up.
The Foxes will look to finish their campaign with a win against Lincolnshire on Friday who stand on 2.5 points from their four games so far.
Friday Schedule for Leicestershire
Friday vs Lincolnshire (8:41 foursomes start; 1:35 singles start)