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West Ham stun Wildfire to reach final

West Hamís superb form continued as they reached the final of the Division One Cup with a fourth away win in a month. Stoke had put themselves in a strong position at the halfway stage of the last four tie between the two clubs, they heading into their home leg just two points adrift of the Dockers. However they got no closer in the return, behind in the meeting from the off when Brian Bell (8+1) and Anthony Kelly (7+3) raced to an opening heat 5-1, while a Kelly winning 4-2 in heat eight left home boss Garry Pearce contemplating the use of tactical substitutes. The appearance of Matthew Francis (11+1) as a replacement in heat nine arrested the Wildfireís slide, he finishing second to team-mate Charles Trosky (12) in a much needed home heat advantage, only their second of the meeting. There were though too many of the home side just not doing their job, with both second strings and reserve Nick Donaldson scoring just a point apiece over the course of the night, in contrast with six different race winners West Hamís performance was a real team one. Top scorer Anthony Norwood led the late charge to victory, he winning a heat ten 4-2 which prevented any possible momentum building for the hosts, his next outing to the track saw him pick up two points in heat 12, while his return in the finale saw him claim the maximum three as West Ham secured their passage with a 5-1. Itís the first time Steve Hebdenís sideówho still remain in all competitions in SL31 and are on a run of just one defeat in 12óhave reached the Division One Cup final since they lifted the trophy for the second time in SL18.

TODAY: Shorts

The Division One Cup final will be an all-London affair after Putney joined West Ham in the decider. They left in late against fellow record four-times winners Newark, with a last heat 5-1 on home shale from Pavel Vonasek (13) and Branislav Misencik (11+1) earning them a 49-41 victory on the night and a two point success on aggregate. Newark had led for the majority of second leg, they not going behind until the second of a run of three 4-2ís for the hosts in heat 13 from the Misencik/Vonasek partnership. A good week turned into a great one for Neil Bonifaceís Spitfires, they going top of the division one table for the first time this season after extending their unbeaten league run to nine with victory at Swanage. Their second win at the south-coast venue of the campaign was like the first a 44-46 success, with again Vonasek (15+1) and Misencik (11+3) picking up the winning points, 5-1ís in heats 13 and 15 for the pair who are virtually unstoppable at present.


Any hopes Nottingham had of overturning their 18 point Division Two Cup semi-final first leg deficit to Dudley Wood were quickly over in the return. The visiting Dragons racing into an early 5-13 lead at the Jazz, with Ighli Giacomini (12) earning the first of his four straight wins on the night in a heat three 5-1. It took the hosts until heat 13 to even get their noses in front in the meeting, by then Stuart Millsís side had already booked their place in the final alongside Desford. The SL14 winners also enjoyed an easy passage through, they following up a ten point success at Kent in leg one of their semi-final tie with a 49-41 home second leg win.


Bilston bounced back from a first leg home defeat against Benfleet to reach their third Division Three Cup final. This weeks visitors to the Robins got level as early as heat two and went in front on aggregate with a Kazimierz Kubiczek (11) winning 4-2 in the next race. Further progress was made with a couple more 4-2ís in heats five and six, but they had it all to do again late on, with the hosts levelling things up with a 5-1 in heat 11. Kubiczek returned for his second win of the night in heat 12, the advantage back with the Terriers, the Pole would go on to seal a 43-47 success in the meeting with win number three in the last. SL29 and 30 winners Milton Keynes meanwhile completed the double over Bracklesham in the other tie to reach the final of the competition for the third successive season.


Kent world number 12 Espen Askelien (14) returns to the GP series for the third year in a row after winning the play-off round in Milton Keynes. The victory was the first for the five-time Norwegian Champion in a World Championship meeting. There is no place however in the GPís for Alexey Otyutskiy, the SL24 and 25 world champion and last years runner-up missing out on the series after scoring just a point in the qualifier. Disappointment too for the three British riders in action, all missed out on the necessary top three finish.


Play Off winner Espen Askelien (15) top scored for Kent as they won at Wirral (43-47) to extend their advantage at the top of division two to seven points. In division three leaders Milton Keynes won at promotion rivals Bracklesham and are now five clear at the top.


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