BERKSHIRE break-builder Matt Ford (pictured) has successfully defended his slender one-point lead to claim the Cuestars South of England Championship Tour rankings title.
Ford, from Martins Heron, Bracknell, and rival Jon Charlton had identical records all day at the sixth and final leg at Jesters Snooker Hall, Swindon
They both dropped just one frame while winning all four of their group-stage matches and both lost 3-1 in the last-eight.
“I’m very pleased to win the rankings, considering I missed the first event,” said the 39-year-old Ladbrokes sports trader, who practises at Sunninghill Comrades Club, Ascot.
“I have been quite consistent in the other five tournaments and to win by just a point made it an exciting climax.”
Indeed. Charlton, who is based at Aldwick RBL, Bognor Regis, needed to go one round further than the rankings leader to claim a record fourth successive title.
In the last-eight, Ford was up against the eventual tournament winner Ryan Mears while Charlton faced Newbury’s Ian Rose.
Aldershot hotshot Mears fired in breaks of 56 and 105 to take a 2-0 lead and added a 46 in the third, which his opponent took with a 77 clearance.
After losing the “quality match” 3-1, Ford said: “I was keeping one eye on Jon Charlton’s match on the other table and it was clear that Ian Rose was on top throughout.
“To be honest, I was just trying to stop Ryan but he was cueing so sweetly he thoroughly deserved to go through.”
And he added: “I’m already looking forward to defending the title next season and for launching a challenge on the Seniors Tour.”
Mears finished the season in third spot after seeing off Southampton’s Town Champion Mike Finn 3-2 from 2-1 down in the final to claim his second tournament win of the season.
The 26-year-old cleared brown, blue and pink from five points ahead to win the decider, which had been full of tactical play and snookers.
Ryan Mears: 105, 71, 60, 56.
Mike Finn: 105, 59, 50.
Jon Charlton: 91.
Richard Swaffield: 82, 77, 75.
Matt Ford: 77, 68, 62, 58, 52.
Ben Tanner: 76.
Ian Rose: 63, 61.
Paul Quinnell: 53.
ROUND-ROBIN GROUP POSITIONS
GROUP A: 1st, Matt Ford (Sunninghill Comrades Club, Ascot); 2nd, Seb Worrall (Jesters, Swindon); 3rd, Ben Tanner (Eastleigh); 4th, Dan Sykes (Chandler’s Ford SC); 5th, Charlie Pringle (Chandler’s Ford SC).
GROUP B: 1st, Jon Charlton (Aldwick RBL, Bognor Regis); 2nd, David Farmer (Potting Shed, Aldbourne); 3rd, Paul Rose (Jesters, Swindon); 4th, Lawrence Cormacey (Churchills, Eastleigh); 5th, Jonathan Walker (Potting Shed, Aldbourne).
GROUP C: 1st, Richard Swaffield (Salisbury SC); 2nd, Ian Rose (Crucible, Newbury); 3rd, Paul Quinnell (Sovereign SC, Farnborough); 4th, Ollie Parsons (Jesters, Swindon); 5th, Ray Mears (Sovereign SC, Farnborough).
GROUP D: 1st, Mike Finn (Churchills, Eastleigh); 2nd, Ryan Mears (Sovereign SC, Farnborough); 3rd, Richard Clark (Jesters, Swindon); 4th, Lewis Miles (Jesters, Swindon); 5th, Liam O’Shea (Jesters, Swindon).
QUARTER-FINALS (£10, 12 points): Ryan Mears 3 Ford 1, I Rose 3 Charlton 1, Swaffield 3 Farmer 1, Finn 3 Worrall 1.
SEMI-FINALS (£20, 15 points): Ryan Mears 3 I Rose 1, Finn 3 Swaffield 1.
FINAL (£80/£40, 25/18 points): Ryan Mears 3 Finn 2.
Report and picture by Tim Dunkley