In the first quarter final of the ‘Just’ Open Pairs earlier today, Simon Skelton and Mike Stepney pulled off a last gasp 7-6, 5-8, 2-1 over the world’s most famous MBE pairing of Alex Marshall and Paul Foster.
There were some telling bowls played throughout, with Stepney in particular on top form. Nothing was given nor taken light with the Elgin based Stepney drawing the set winner on the last end of the first set to count a double and pip the Scots 7-6.
The Scots though stormed back in the second jumping out to a 6-0 lead after four ends, and despite Skelton and Stepney scoring five shots over three of the next four ends to cut the deficit to 5-7, Marshall and Foster counted a vital single to win the set and move to a sudden death, best of three end shoot out.
The tie break was a dramatic affair, with Stepney drawing the winner on the first end to a displaced jack and then the Scots winning a measure by a hair breadth on the second end.
On the deciding end Foster held the potential match winning shot just a few inches in front of the jack - Stepney nominated to kill the end and got a perfect result. On the replayed decider Stepney once again stepped up to the plate and drew a shot just a few inches behind the back. This time though it was Marshall who nominated to kill the end but his last bowl agonisingly missed the target by millimetres to give Skelton and Stepney a berth in tomorrow’s semi finals.
“When you get to a tie break it’s anyone’s game” said Stepney adding “ We had really to play some big bowls to win through. We were playing ‘the best’ so knew that we would have to be at the top of our form and obviously we are delighted that we came through”.
Marshall said “Yes, the game could have swung either way. We had a match lie in that winner take all last end on the tie break but Mike played a belter of a shot to kill the end and then drew the match winner on the replay. He’d played some big shots all the way through so we have no gripes. Good Luck to them”.
“JUST” World Open Pairs 2021
Simon Skelton and Michael Stepney beat Paul Foster MBE and Alex Marshall MBE 7-6, 5-8, 2-1
Reported by Anne Dunwoodie (WBT Press Officer)