Diamond Edition - ENHANCED
Coventry suffer Euro nightmare
Coventry’s dreams of landing a record equalling fifth European Cup title this season are all but over after they suffered a home defeat to Beverley in the first leg of this years final. A quiet first eight heats proved to be the calm before the storm, with the Hellcats reeking havoc in the final seven, four 5-1’s seeing them overturn a six point deficit to win the meeting 42-48. The carnage began with a tactical substitute appearance form Henrik Kojefors (16+1), Lee Barnett (4+1) not providing the sort of opposition to him or team mate Richard Coward (11+2) required of a home heat leader, he out-gated and out performed by the visitors star men in heat nine, the 5-1 the first of three from the Hellcats top two. Joshua Sky (9+1) and Colin Richardson (6+2) joined forces for the other in heat ten, John Hawke’s (5+1) horrendous night continuing in that, he fell heavily when tangling with Richardson and was excluded from the re-run, that ‘zero’ his second of the meeting having broken a chain in heat one. In obvious pain from a damaged wrist Hawke trailed in last in heat 13, the home number one recovered to finish second to Ales Skaper (14) in heat 14—both in as tactical substitutes—that 5-1 took the meeting into a last heat decider, but there was no way Hawke could return for a third successive outing to the track, Dave Hood instead opting to track second string Jonathan Addison (6). There wasn’t to be a dramatic twist though, Beverley confirming their superiority at heat leader by clinching the win with another Kojefors/Coward maximum in the decider, six up going into their home leg, the trophy now all but theirs.
Peckletonare through to their first Division One Cup final after completing a surprise two point last four aggregate win over Tibthorpe. Reserves Lee Lloyd (5+2) and Ryan Francis overturned the Ravens first leg deficit with a 5-1 in heat two, and with two more heat advantages going their way in their first five races it seemed the Ravens were cruising into their second successive final. The Raiders however haven’t lost any of their 12 cup meetings this season by more than two points, and that resilience showed at Manor Farm, tactical substitute wins for Bradley Allsopp (12) and Vlastimil Lidvin (13) in heat six and 11 4-2’s bringing them back to within striking distance of their hosts. They struck with successive 4-2’s at the death, George King and Allsopp winning in turn for the Raiders who levelled the scores on the night to complete a two point aggregate win. Beverley await in the final, the Hellcats having extended their winning run in cup competitions this season to 15 meetings with a 53-37 semi final second leg win over York, they are looking to win the competition for the first time in 15 years.
Defeated in the home leg of their semi final by Heatherdale but Chiesledon had wrapped up aggregate victory by the end of heat 14 of the return, the Knights progressing to the final of the Division Two Cup with a heat to spare thanks to a Ero Oja (8+1) winning 4-2. The SL15 winners will take on Weymouth for this years silverware, the runaway second tier leaders going through by 19 from the second of the semi final ties after completing the double over Portland this week.
Eight up from the first leg of the semi final Houston held on to reach the final of the Division Three Cup at Fenny Stratford this week, the hosts coming within three points of the aggregate lead before the Mustangs all but sealed things with 4-2’s in heats 12 and 13, their top two of Kevin Bullock (13) and Marek Jozwiak (12+1) winning in turn. Houston will take on fellow rookies Belham Road in the final.
Home advantage helped Henrik Kojefors (14) win this season’s GP Play Off, the SL21 and 22 world champion taking his place in the GP series—in which he joins Beverley team mates Joshua Sky and Richard Coward—for the seventh season in a row. Jonas Fredholm (13) finished second at the Hellcats and will line-up in his first ever GP in Horsens next week, Brits’ John Hawke (3rd) and Kevin Bullock (6th) were also amongst those to qualify for the series.
Any lingering fears of a late season relegation battle for Coventry are over after they extended their winning run to six meetings, with a third away from home in a row returned at York, 43-46.
A first away win of the second half of the season for Chiseldon consolidated their position in the division two promotion places, Stepps the venue for the much needed success, the eventual 43-47 victory secured with a Ero Oja heat 14 winning 4-2. In division three Houston climbed into a season high fourth and to within points difference of the promotion places with a 43-47 win at Belham Road, fresh from qualifying for the GP’s Kevin Bullock scored a maximum in the victory, one completed with a last heat 5-1.