Clive Stow began the season in fine form, winning all nine of his singles over the Wyke B side’s three opening fixtures, but his run was brought to an abrupt halt by Brian Roberts of Crusaders.

The duo met in the opening rubber of their club’s Weymouth & District Table Tennis Division One clash at the Wyke Community Hall and it turned out to be one of five thrilling five-setters on the night.

Roberts pulled through 12-10 in the decider after trailing 8-6, which was no mean feat as Stow has been buoyed by his recent success playing with long pimples.

However, Roberts showed little apprehension when facing in-form Stow and those pimples as he played a series of blistering backhands to hand his side the initiative early from the off.

Later, Stow (8) recovered to inflict his first ever defeat (3-1) on Robin Prince (7) even though the latter hit several flat-hit forehand winners, while Roberts went on to enjoy two more five-set matches but with mixed fortunes.

Roberts (8) made too many errors on his forehand attack against a far more consistent Steve Bill (4) but then re-turned to the table to outwit Sean Beauchamp (4), again over five legs.

After the singles, the visitors held a winning 21-16 lead and then a 3-2 doubles triumph for Roberts and Prince over Stow and Beauchamp rounded the night off at 24-18 in favour of Crusaders who sit second in the table.

The previous evening, Springfield’s Jon Bissett also lost his 100 per cent winning record in the top flight in a pulsating five-setter with Sai Magenti (6) of Wyke A at the Reynolds Institute.

Nevertheless, Bissett (8) appeared inspired after this opening rubber reverse to help his side to a handsome 25-9 victory with two three-sets wins over both Steve White (3) and Mick Hogan (0).

However, Jon’s brother Andy Bissett, who has made a recent return to the sport, went one further as he took a full nine-sets maximum without dropping a game and it looks as though he is going to take some stopping this term in the top flight. n The Weymouth & District League are coming to terms with the loss of one of its stalwart members, Godfrey Axe, who passed away last month.

Godfrey had become a coach in 1965 in Hampshire and on moving to Weymouth in 1977 he began his association with the local league, playing continuously for a number of teams in both the resort and Dorchester.

Most notably, Axe became a winner of the meritorious award for services to the league in 2003.