It’s all square at the halfway stage

Niels Feijen & Darren Appleton

TEAM EUROPE won the second session of the 2012 Mosconi Cup by three points to two to leave the annual Europe v America match dead level at the halfway stage. There were wins for American pairs in the first and last doubles matches of the day while Europe took both singles matches as well as the second doubles match.

With America leading 3-2 from the first day’s play but underdogs at the start of the competition, there was a feeling that both teams would have been happy being tied at the end of the day.
It was Johnny Archer, playing in his 16th Mosconi Cup and Shane Van Boening who squared it up in the final match of the evening as they beat the stellar European team of Darren Appleton and Niels Feijen.
It was another 5-4 match – the fourth of the competition and the fourth won by the American team – but Archer and Van Boening came with some great shots under pressure to record the win.
The Europeans got off to a bad start to the session though, as the English duo of Darren Appleton and Chris Melling lost a squeaker to Mosconi legend Johnny Archer and Mike Dechaine.
The Americans had lead 4-2 before Europe clawed their way back into it with a pair of quality run outs. At 4-4 Dechaine broke, but Archer missed a fine cut on the 1 ball. Melling was left with a full table pot on the one but it failed to drop and in the end Dechaine took the point with a 6/9 combination.
That took the overall score to 4-2 in favour of the away team but Archer was as cautious as a man who has played in 15 Mosconi Cups could be; “It is going to be nip and tuck all the way, any match you could lose it at any time or you could win it at any time. We made a mistake tonight but we have to take advantage of whatever first shot we have and Melling made a mistake to give us the opportunity.
“I want to say congratulations to Mike because he felt bad after losing yesterday but he came out today and played wonderful like the champ that he is.”
Dechaine enjoyed the moment, “It is incredible; I feel I have had to go back to basics with my game because of the crowd yelling and everybody cheering Europe on. I feel that might put some more pressure on them as well because they have to win in front of their own crowd.”
That put enormous pressure on European captain Johan Ruijsink as arguably his weakest player Nick Ekonomopoulos went out to face the pick of Team USA in Shane Van Boening.
However, the nervy Greek debutant clearly hadn’t read the script as he powered to a 5-3 win to pull his team off the floor and set the York Hall on fire.
Aided by one or two rolls at opportune times, Nikos, as he is known in his home country, stayed with Van Boening in the opening stages before the tide turned. At 3-3, the American looked a little less confident than at the outset when he shot into a 2-0 lead.
Ekonomopoulos looked a different player from yesterday’s slow-paced bundle of nerves as he moved swiftly around the table punching the cue ball with authority. He took the final two racks to take his team to within one of the Americans.
“I feel great, with so many people cheering,” said a delighted Ekonomopoulos.
“It was a very difficult game and Shane Van Boening is a very good player, a great player. I tried to be relaxed, I think I was relaxed and I won. We lost three matches 5-4 and I believe we were unlucky. But now it will be better for us I think. I think the crowd helps me, I like to play in front of these people.”
There was more joy for the Europeans in the next as the dynamic Dutch duo of Nick Van den Berg and Niels Feijen turned the momentum in a big way as they beat Dennis Hatch and Brandon Shuff 5-2 in front of an increasingly vocal York Hall crowd.
Everyone was talking about a miracle jump shot that Van den Berg executed to set up a run out at a decisive point in the match. Using a strange looking Perspex bridge, he dug into the cue ball and clipped the orange 5 down the rail.
Afterwards Van Den Berg said, “Unbelievable, did I make that shot?! I was running to the table to get the rest and I heard the shot clock so I just totally went for it.
“I just couldn’t reach it with my bridge hand so Darren Appleton had said before the match that he had this tool and I said we would never use it! I have never used that before.”
Feijen added, “I played horrible shape for him to get there. There was nothing for him to do, he couldn’t reach the jump, he couldn’t reach with the normal cue, the extension was gone and he had only 10 seconds left, so he is running back to the chair to get this thing. ‘Where is that thing?’ he said, and I said ‘What thing, you have five seconds!’ He runs back, manoeuvres it around and 3, 2, 1, boom he makes it.”
Chris Melling piled on the misery for the Americans in the next as he outplayed Dennis Hatch to give the Europeans the lead for the first time in the Mosconi Cup. The boisterous crowd gave ‘The Hatchetman’ a run for his money and he seemed to lap it up but it was Melling who cashed in on Hatch’s errors to run out a 5-3 winner.
And in the final match of the day Archer and van Boening levelled it to leave the 2012 Mosconi Cup intriguingly poised at five points each.
Play continues tomorrow with more doubles and singles matches commencing 7.00pm UK time.