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Suffolk Saxons lose opening fixture

FULL FLIGHT: Sarah Walker
FULL FLIGHT: Sarah Walker

Suffolk Saxons’ first ever AJ Bell National Badminton League encounter ended in a 4-1 defeat at the home of defending champions Birmingham Lions.

The scoreline didn’t reflect the full story of an exciting start to the 2016/17 NBL season, which saw the Saxons hindered by late injury withdrawals.

Headline team selections that caused some surprise before the match saw the Suffolk Saxons hand AJ Bell NBL debuts to three players.

There was added spice and interest with Sarah Walker returning to Birmingham in Saxons colours, and Saxons head coach Anthony Clark naming himself in his first ever starting line-up.

In his pre-match commentary Clark had promised commitment and entertainment from the new Saxons outfit, and they did not disappoint as they ran the NBL favourites for 2017 hard in every game.

It was Clark who silenced the Birmingham crowd with a stunning display of controlled power and finesse, that took the first 2 games of the opening mixed doubles tie. Sarah Walker, partnering Clark grew stronger as the game progressed and took control of the forecourt as the Saxons pair took the match 9-7,9-4,5-9,9-2.

Unfortunately for Saxons that point would be the only match win of the evening, although there were encouraging performances all-round from the young players on debut.

Sarita Patel was the pick of the bunch teaming up with Sarah Walker, who was impressive all evening, to bring Saxons to the brink of a 2-1 match lead, only to fail on an all or nothing match point in the fifth and final set, when the spoils went to the Lions.

The Saxons will return to action against Surrey Smashers at the Ipswich Corn Exchange on November 7.

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