Atherton ace tips Birmingham for National Badminton League glory

Atherton’s Gary Fox is confident his Birmingham Lions side are destined for the AJ Bell National Badminton League play-offs this season after they picked up their second victory from two fixtures on Monday evening.

The 25-year-old made the trip to MK Badminton with the in-form Birmingham Lions, and despite losing to Peter Mills and Sean Vendy alongside Dutch veteran Koen Ridder, Fox’s side emerged 3-2 overall winners on the night.

Fox’s clash was undoubtedly the best contest of the evening, with two of the four games going down to a deciding point in a fiercely competitive match.

It was a nail-biting affair for the raucous home crowd, but some aggressive serving from Vendy and consistency from Mills at the back of the court saw them over the line with the score 9-8 7-9 9-6 9-8.

“I’m happy we won the fixture overall of course, but disappointed and quite annoyed at how we lost our event,” said Fox.

“It was always going to be close match, but to lose it from 7-3 up on a drive serve is hard to take, and had we won that fourth game we could have taken our PowerPlay into the next.

“But to go 3-2 for the second time in two weeks as a team is a brilliant result, and we are very happy with that.

“Our goal this year is certainly to get to the play-offs. We didn’t manage it last year and with the start we’ve had we are on track now.

“To win 4-1 overall would have been a very big result. Last year we lost here when we could have won 4-1, and while winning overall is the most important thing, every game counts and winning that last one would have been brilliant for us to take away.”

The result moves Birmingham Lions up to second in the AJ Bell NBL standings, with Fox’s side chasing a spot in the play-offs for the first time after narrowly missing out on the showcase event last term.

And despite losing twice in two outings together so far this season, the former St Mary’s Catholic High School student is hopeful he and Ridder will be given the chance to spark their long-term partnership into life once more in Birmingham Lions’ next fixture against reigning champions Team Derby.

He added: “I hope Koen and I stick together as a pairing. We do play well together, but the men’s doubles is really strong this year in the AJ Bell NBL so every single match is going to be hard.

“I really enjoy the style of the league as it makes for exciting badminton. Every single point is so important and you’re never out of a match until it’s over, so it makes it really entertaining.

“We have Team Derby next up, and hopefully we can get a full team out for that game as it will be a really hard one.

“It’s been a good start and we’ve got momentum with two great wins behind us so hopefully we can keep that going against Team Derby.”

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