SQUASH: CHESTER RUFC's hopes of a top six or better finish were dealt a severe blow with a 4-1 defeat at Village Hyde.
The hosts had their top team out led by world number 20, Nick Taylor and Chester had two late cry-offs through injury to their two professionals, which didn't assist their cause.
Alan Gibbons stepped into the breach at short notice to make his debut for the first team this season and while he battled man-fully he was always facing an uphill task against Steve Gregory.
Michael Waight, back from university, also stepped in at short notice. He was hopeful of causing Michael Knight some problems, but the studies had clearly taken their toll and Knight also won comfortably 3-0 to put Village Hyde two up.
Chester's point came from the man in form, Drewe Williams whose progress this season has been nothing short of miraculous, having come back from a snapped Achilles tendon.
In what was possibly the best match of the night the first two games were shared with Dave Green, but Williams' new-found confidence and fitness shone through in the third and fourth games to give him the match 3-1 and revenge for an earlier defeat in the first half of the season. Williams' performance in the second half of the season has been a highlight.
Village Hyde professional Paul Kelly then faced Chester's Jonathan Davies. There were some quality rallies between the two, but Kelly always had the edge as he took control to win 3-1, but it was a brave performance by Davies.
In the top string, facing Nick Taylor, who has been in the world top 20 for the last 10 years, it was always going to be an impossible task for Chester's captain, Jonathan Clark to get much out of the game.
The first two games were played at a frenetic pace, which to some extent suited Clark, although Taylor may not have been firing on all cylinders and it was a surprising extra point for Chester when Clark edged the second game.
Taylor turned the power on and normal service was resumed in the third and fourth, as he made it 4-1 to Village Hyde. Chester's final game is at home against Rochdale on Tuesday (7.30).
A victory would ensure seventh place and would be a very creditable performance in their first season back.