Dragons poor cup run continues
Dunmow have failed to progress beyond the second round of the KO Cup competition for a ninth year in a row, the top flight Dragons eliminated by Merseyside after being held to a home draw by the second division side this week. The result sent the Marauders through by 14 on aggregate, Dunmow had briefly threatened to make a contest of it, two 4-2’s and a 5-1 taking them eight up in the second leg in the first six heats, however a double substitution in heat eight by Glyn Hughes changed the complexion of the tie completely, with Leon Creer (15) and Marian Suchancok (10+2) halving their side’s deficit on the night with a 5-1. Dunmow answered that with a 4-2, but with Merseyside going on to pick up heat advantages in each of the following three races—two of which were won by Suchancok—the tie would be over prior to the start of heat 13. It’s the first time Merseyside have reached the last eight of the competition since SL12, they having won just one tie in the four seasons prior to this one. Next up for them is a double-header with Southampton, the side that eliminated them at the first round stage in SL14, given their start this season the Scorpions will be favourites to do so again. John Shuttler’s side are there courtesy of a 47-43 second round second leg win over holders Quantock, the Rangers exiting by two on aggregate with Paul Adams (13) and Craig Rowntree (10+2) team riding to the minor places in the last heat decider. Earlier having gone behind to heat three and five 5-1’s Quantock had fought back to lead on aggregate after heat eight, however Southampton finished the stronger, Vladimior Anyukov (11) in particular, the Russian claiming key wins in heats nine and 14 4-2’s. In the other all top flight second round ties Altrincham progressed at Sandwell by ten, the Panthers reaching the last eight for the first time ever with what was their first aggregate victory over the West Midlander’s in four attempts, while Don Valley proved to be an insurmountable blockage for Ramsgate for a third time in the competition in seven years. At least the Rams got closer on this occasion, after winning a leg for the first time ever against the Vipers last week the visitors had a least a lead to defend, and they held the advantage right until heat 14 in which the hosts levelled things with a 4-2 despite the appearance of Simon Adzic as a tactical substitute. Ruthlessly the eight times winners of the competition finished the job off with a 5-1 in the decider, Iain Johnson (15) completing his second maximum of this years competition in the process.
Don Valley’s reward for their latest KO Cup victory against Quantock is a quarter final tie with Jericho, the division two side going through to the last eight for the second successive season following an impressive 22 point aggregate win over Swindon. In contrast Inverness were taken to a last heat decider by fellow division three side California in their second round tie, Tim Foster’s rookies progressing by four following a last heat 4-2 won by the unbeaten Sanel Tiganj (15). The Raptors will take on Altrincham in the last eight, with the third round draw completed by an all second division tie involving Gateshead—who beat Andersson home and away—and Cradley.
World Champion Simon Driffield (11) safely negotiated his second round tie in this years championship in Kalmar despite a heat 13 fall on the Swedish circuit, the 24 year old recovering to win his final race and secure the necessary top eight finish in the meeting. Fellow Brit’ Liam Marlow topped the standings with 13 points, the Don Valley star—who also won his first round tie—taking his tally of career WSO event wins to 18. For Malmo’s Roman Mila (12) it was career win number one in Kassel, the Pole topping the podium after a race off win over another Brit, Paul Adams.
Merseyside ended a run of six without a win in the league with back-to-back victories, Marko Kokol picking up the rider of the night award with paid ten at reserve in their 18 point home success over Gateshead, before adding two more wins to his tally in the Marauders crucial 43-47 victory at Jericho. Crucial because it closes the gap between the two sides in second and third to just two points, the promotion contenders had began the week seven apart! In all Kokol’s two wins came in a total of 11 earned by the visitors, they as a team sharper all meeting from the gate and more aggressive when not taking the first bend in front, most notably Marian Suchancok (12+2) who passed Andras Zombari to turn a 4-2 into a 5-1 in heat ten and then Gary Gregory in heat 12 to prevent a heat advantage going the home side’s way. At the other end of the table Liden earned some breathing space between themselves and the relegation zone with a 42-48 victory at Gateshead, the win the Lions first away from home in any competition in over a year.