A golden chance to break the stranglehold of Melrose SSC and Scotter at the top of the Gainsborough Bowls League appears to be have been thrown away.
For more than a decade, the big guns have dominated the honours, and they also occupy the top two places in this season’s table.
The latest round of matches gave fourth-placed Marshall A, who hosted Melrose, and third-placed Beckingham, who entertained Scotter, an ideal opportunity to make a serious challenge.
But although Marshall won 6-4 (94 shots to 65), they remain 19 points behind leaders Melrose, while Beckingham were on the receiving end of a narrow 6-4 defeat that left them 13 points off top spot.
For most of their match, Marshall looked like getting full revenge for a 10-0 thrashing at the hands of the leaders earlier in the season. Peter Musson, Alan Crookes and Keith Clarke bossed their rink to win 31-11, while Tim Kempton, John Musgrave and Roy Enever triumphed 29-13.
The other two rinks were also winning, only for Melrose to battle back in the last five ends and take them 22-17 and 19-17 to ease the pain of only their second defeat of the season.
Beckingham suffered a similar fate. They looked set to win 8-2 for most of the match, only for a brilliant last wood by Merv Johnson to inspire a 79 shots to 77 success for Scotter. They took that rink 23-22 and another 22-17, wile the home side pulled off a couple of 19-17 victories.
Elsewhere in the league, both North Wheatley A and Marton GB crashed to 8-2 defeats -- against Rose A and Owston Ferry respectively.