Linlithgow super-sub helps them to Top Five Singles title

The Linlithgow team pose with their Top Five Singles trophy after defeating Newbridge in the final
The Linlithgow team pose with their Top Five Singles trophy after defeating Newbridge in the final
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Linlithgow captured the WLBA Top Five Singles title in thrilling circumstances as they edged an epic battle against Newbridge by 3 wins to 2 in the final at Middleton Hall.

Mark Graham proved to be a super-sub for Linlithgow as, with Gary Smith and Scott Mushet unavailable, he grabbed his opportunity and set the final alight by beating Newbridge icon Alec Allan in the first head-to-head to finish.

Graham’s 21-15 win in 21 ends was an immediate game-changer and the upset was signalled by an encouraging start to lead 8-2 then at 10-8 down he arrested that slide with a reply of 1, 4 to get back in front at 13-10.

A later run of 1, 3, 1 firmly installed Graham in the driving seat at 20-13 and he duly clinched a victory that was an inspiration to the Linlithgow camp.

Graeme Byrne put Linlithgow 2-0 up when from 10-10 he stretched to 15-11 and from 16-13 delivered a strong finish of 2, 1, 2 to beat Greg Baldry, 21-13, in 19 ends.

Newbridge made their presence felt on the third game to finish with Blair Mackie picking up the pace from 12-11 and accelerating to a good 21-13 win in 22 ends against fellow Hamilton Trophy colleague, Gary Orr.

Drew Paterson emerged a hero figure for Newbridge in game No.4 when, after being 13-3 down to Steven Fleming, he gave them a lifeline with a spectacular fightback that included a run of 4, 3, 1 to hit the front at 19-15.

Fleming hit back with 2, 2 to peel at 19, but Paterson served up a brilliant winner that trailed the jack for a 2 to 21. It was now “game back on” but, even so, Linlithgow were in the driving seat with David Alexander leading 18-12 against James Speirs. However, the Newbridge player battled back with four singles to menace at 16.

It was still a close call for the title at 19-17 in favour of Alexander as the momentum seemed to be with Speirs but in end 23 the Linlithgow challenger produced a brilliantly-judged “chap and lie”, then a perfectly-weighted draw to card a title-winning double to 21.

It was entertaining stuff and a thrilling climax.