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Houston defy doubters to claim cup success

Houston successfully overcame a nine point first leg deficit against Coventry to claim a maiden Division One Cup success. A blistering start to the return from this weeks hosts saw them in front on aggregate as early as heat three, 5-1’s from the reserves and then the Branimir Klepp (12+1)/Bradley Allsop (8+1) partnership a race later hitting the holders hard. When Jacob Harvey (12) returned from a tactical substitute visit to the track in heat five empty handed, you knew this was going to be tough for the Crusaders, Klepp and Allsop again taking a heat advantage, Houston now 12 up on the night. Dave Hood called up three more riders for extra rides, just a third place apiece for the trio, but with 4-2’s claimed in each for the visitors, the Crusaders boss could claim the moves were justified. The limited success did see them regain the aggregate lead, however with his bullets all used up it was Houston that had the better of the closing stages, Harry Sloan (11) and Jonathan Huggett (8+1) firing the Mustangs back in front with their side’s third 5-1 in heat 13. Allsopp’s first victory of the night a race later helped increase their advantage heading into the last, in which George Seymour’s side could afford a non-finish from Sloan and still take the trophy, Klepp ensuring he’d be the first to get his hands on the silverware with a second place finish ahead of Coventry’s number one, John Hawke (10). The single point victory ends a near two year run without a competition success for Houston, they face Coventry again next week as they seek further silverware in the 4TT final, Boston and Beverley also stand in their way in the four-legged decider.

TODAY: Shorts

The concession of back-to-back 5-1’s at the mid-point of their home return leg ended the resistance of Brighton in the final of the Division Two Cup. The races, won in turn by Raido Anniste (17) and Andras Korosi (10+1), certainly a turning point in the tie, Timperley going in front on the night just at a time when the Rockets were making themselves favourites. Two 5-1’s became three for Garry Robinson’s side in heat 13 when Anniste led home Tord Finstad (8+2), that maximum proving decisive in the Titans silverware hunt, they eventually winners of the meeting by two and by ten on aggregate. As expected Nottingham won the Division Three Cup, but having put themselves in pole position with an eight point first leg at Bury, it wasn’t as easy as it might have been for Michael Wright’s side. The home fans were made to wait until the end of heat 14 to celebrate, when a 5-1 from Michael Curran and reserve Benjamin Murray (10+3) eventually took the third tier double hunters over the line. Consolation for bottom of the table Bury came in the form of a 44-46 second leg win, secured with their fourth 5-1 of the meeting in the last.


A fourth away win of the season sees St Ives enter the final month of SL31 just a point off division one leaders Coventry. Their trip to Tibthorpe had implications at both ends of the table, with the defeat for the Ravens seeing them slip back into the drop zone, they currently a point adrift of Doncaster and safety. Reserve Antonio Fineberg (13+1) was beaten just once as the Pirates won 44-46, they have picked up nine out of possible ten league points against the Ravens this season.


Beverely secured promotion back to the top flight at the first attempt with a 59-31 mauling of Sawley. Joshua Sky (15) topped the scoring for the hosts with his 14th maximum of the campaign, his previous highest number of full houses scored in a full league season was just seven. The defeat secured Sawley’s relegation with five meetings to spare, St Barts also suffering that fate later in the week despite earning a 43-47 win at the Mercians. In the race to join the Hellcats in the top flight next season there was a crucial victory for third placed Buxton (47 points) at bottom side East Kent, the 44-46 success clinched with a last heat Darren Stevens (14+1) winning 5-1. The Bandits are currently four points clear of Sneyd Green (43) in the standings with four meetings remaining, two of which are trips to promotion rivals Brighton (42) and Timperley (42).


Important away wins for Pitsea and Witham in division three as they consolidated their spots in the promotion places. Ashley Smith (15) scored a maximum for the latter as they won at Fenny Stratford, 44-46, while Pitsea secured all three points at Bosolver by the same score-line thanks to a last heat 5-1 from Mark Austin (14) and the unbeaten Ales Skaper (17+1).


A fourth career GP win for SL29 World Champion Viktor Visek (14) has brought the 37 year old into this years title race. The Pskov and Czech Republic number one dropped just a point in taking the meeting win in Germany, Coventry’s Jacob Harvey (12) was second after winning a three rider race-off against Miloslav Ivanoff and Vladilen Bunin. Ivanoff takes over in the standings as series leader.


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