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HITTING THE WALL

Stag Hill out as Bilston reach last 16

It’s taken them four seasons but at last Bilston have a KO Cup win under their belts, John Wall’s third tier minnows eliminating higher division opponents in Stag Hill from the opening round, the defeat the Stars first ever at this stage of the competition. And at 12 points it was a significant one, just six down from the first leg it took just two heats of their home return for the Bull Terriers to get on terms, reserve Jake Cormell (9+2) backing up a heat one 5-1 with a win in a 4-2 in the second race of the night to level things up. Successive 4-2’s followed, earning Bilston a four point advantage by the end of heat four, and although their progress was slowed somewhat by the visitors use of substitutes—most significantly when Glen Ferrell (12+1) came in to partner Marcin Bukalski (11) for a 5-1 in heat eight—they would go on to dominate much of the latter stages of the meeting, they closing out the success with four 5-1’s in the final seven races. Both Cormell and second string Marcel Sekoranja was involved in two of those late maximums, the latter continuing his promising start to his British League career in the fixture, Wall’s only signing of pre-season proving—the 26 year old cost just £12,000—that there are still bargains to be had if you are shrewd enough. Bilston backed up their cup success victory with a 44-46 win at Tresco, their second away victory of their league campaign taking them to the top of the division three standings for the first time in over two years. Cormell—who finished with season best figures of ten from five in the win—secured the points for the visitors with victory in a heat 14 4-2.

 

TODAY: Shorts

Bilston will face fellow third tier side Desford in the second round of the KO Cup, the Dynamos the only other side to beat higher division opposition in round one of this season’s competition. Nottingham were their opponents this week, a one-sided affair saw the top six from the Dynamos all earn race wins in a 55-35 home success, two going the way of recent loan addition Pelcis Alexander (9+1) at reserve, while Liam Edwards (8+3) also impressed, the 25 year old second string following up second place finishes in heat three and five 5-1’s behind Sasa Siegl (12+1) with victory in heat 12. Edwards, who joined the club as a 16 year old in SL17, has since achieved a career high GSA, with the 25 year olds mark rising to 8.16 after the Dynamos later league win at Herne Bay. Edwards scored 12+1 in what was Desford’s—at 39-51—biggest away league success in over 12 years, the defeat was Herne Bay’s first at home in any competition.

 

Holders Swanage will kick off the defence of their KO Cup crown with a mouth-watering second round tie with Newark, the Swans having received a bye in round one. The Invaders meanwhile booked their place in the last 16 for the eighth time in nine years with a 43-47 victory at Black Country, the Devils—having come within two points of the aggregate lead—capitulating late on with the concession of two 5-1’s and two 4-2’s in the final four races. Brighton—who won at Newcastle 34-56 this week—will take on last years runners-up Dover in a second all top flight last 16 tie, with Dudley meeting Stoke in a third such two legged encounter.

 

Sturminster were taken to the wire by Reading, but a last heat second place in the tie from Jarno Gronlund (11) was enough to put the top flight side through to the last 16 of the KO Cup for the fifth successive season. Reading go out by just two on aggregate despite a 50-40 second leg win, the Whiteknights have now lost eight of their last nine first round ties in the competition. Another second division side—in the form of Wirral—await Sturminster at the next stage, the Warriors through after completing a four point aggregate victory over Trentham this week.

 

Warrington moved off the bottom of the division one table with a 44-46 victory at Cradley, the Vikings ending the week in the top half of the standings after following up their first away win of the season—secured with a last heat Tom Ranshaw (16)/Danny Forbes (13+1) 5-1—with a six point home success over Sturminster.

 

A 43-47 home defeat to Buckingham has left Stonebridge without a win in six in the league and four points adrift at the bottom of division three. Timiri Wardski (13) won the battle of the guest riders in the meeting for the Buccaneers, his victory in a 5-1 over the Stars’ injury replacement—Pet Horak (12)—in the last, taking the visitors to the win.

 

Swanage’s Martin Ata claimed a fourth career Danish title with a maximum in this years final in Horsens, while it was national title number three for Bracklesham’s Radek Bateska (12), who won the SL26 Czech Final in Prague.

 

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