Diamond Edition - ENHANCED
Favourites open with away success
They maybe the youngest side in the division, but it was once again the old man of the team that ‘won it for Stafford’, the now 36 year old Marcus Innannen (13+1) showing the youngsters how it’s done by winning a four lap battle with Bradley Allsopp (13), to clinch a decisive last heat victory in his side’s opening meeting of SL26 at Peckleton. Innanen’s fourth set of three points on the night plus the point for third gained by his long-time partner at the head of the team—John Bingley (11)—completing a 44-46 victory for the Angels, a fitting way to celebrate the start of the duo’s 11th season together in the line-up. 18 year old Nathan Bluestein (5) along with fellow teen Davide Natali (4) both picked up heat wins earlier on in the night, the potential clearly there but whether they will ever reach anywhere near the heights of Bingley—twice a WU21 title holder—and current world champion Innanen is debatable. For now though Simon Humprey’s Angels look more than equipped to extend their run of trophy successes, they’ve averaged three competition wins in the last three season’s and there’s nothing to suggest they can’t at least match that figure in SL26. Humprey’s side went on to beat Coventry at home, 47-43, Natali paid for ten in the meeting in which the visitors were forced into using tactical substitutes, the margin of success though not good enough to see them top the standings, that honour goes to Beverley, winners over local rivals, York and Tibthorpe. The Hellcats away success came at York, where the visitors top six all picked up wins, as usual the most prolific Henrik Kojefors (14) with four to his name.
Beverleyfollowed up their league win at York with victory in the Pairs first round meeting at Houston, Henrik Kojefors and Joshua Sky though had to share the plaudits with hosts duo Svenne Gregersen and Scott Viljoen, who equalled the Hellcats 22 point tally, Chiseldon qualified through to next weeks second round stage in third spot. Home advantage also helped Bradley Allsopp and Vlastim Lidvin seal a comfortable passage through to round two, the Peckleton riders scoring three 5-1’s from their six races as they secured a single point victory over Bognor—who boast the top averaged pairing in the competition—Heatherdale went through in third. St Ives were the most impressive winners of the four ties, Darren Stevens and Robert Taylor scoring three 5-1’s for the second division side as they topped the standings at Warley by a clear five points, the hosts did enough to take second spot with Exmouth finishing third, top flight Tibthorpe though amongst those eliminated. Another shock at Tavistock where SL22 runners-up York finished down in sixth, the meeting won by second tier Stepps, represented by Richard Karley and Oliver Burley. Midland and league newcomers Belham Road shared second spot.
Coventry face an uphill battle if they are to reach the semi finals of the Division One Cup for the fourth successive season, they playing catch-up in their first round group after suffering a home 44-46 defeat to Peckleton. The Raiders took the opportunity of the trip to Diamond Park to quickly bounce back from their home league loss to Beverley, pre-season signings Vlastimil Lidvin (13+1) and Przemyslaw Sygula (7+2) both impressing for the Raiders. Last years defeated finalists Tibthorpe meanwhile have the advantage in the second of the groups following a 40-50 success at Warley, the Ravens scoring four 5-1’s on their way to victory, Aussie Michael Curren (13+1) involved in three of them.
With no away wins in the opening two rounds of division two fixtures, Chiseldon’s draw at Tweedside is enough to see them top the standings, the Knights—relegated at the end of last season—disappointed to leave the Riverside with just a point though having led for all but the opening heat prior to the last, Lee Valenti (11) passed in the decider by John Honey to hand the Tigers a 4-2. That was the Knights second away draw of the week, their Division Two Cup meeting at Witham having also ended all square despite again Chiseldon having never been headed in it. There was away success elsewhere in the competition, Heatherdale making a winning debut at St Barts (42-48), as did fellow newly promoted side Portland at St Ives (44-46).
David Brown’s Barkham top the division three table following a 44-46 win at Heath, the Bandits strong top five seeing them through to victory against a side who had won away from home themselves on the opening day of the campaign. The Vikings victory was returned at newcomers Belham Road, 41-49, the points secured for the visitors by a last heat 5-1 from Soren Kure (13) and Noah Nicholson (13+1).