Vipers defence over after home loss
Don Valley’s chances of making a successful defence of their league title went from slim to none with a home defeat to league leaders Ramsgate. Fragility in the side has been there for all to see in the past couple of months at the DVSA, the Vipers have now won just one of their last four on their own circuit, wins at Sankey and St Peters masking issues present throughout the side. Heat leaders Valeri Lach (8+1) and Liam Marlow (9)—so reliable at the start of the campaign—have been more miss than hit than late, against the very best they struggle to make their presence felt, of their combined ten outings to the track against Ramsgate only one resulted in victory against an opposition top man. Just not good enough on home shale, especially with a lack of any meaningful back-up from the lower order, the top score from the bottom quartet a lowly four, the reserves beating just one rider between them. Ramsgate had gone eight up by the end of heat five in the crunch fixture, four different riders winning in turn for the visitors as they got off to a flyer. Don Valley hit back with a tactical substitute aided heat eight 5-1, however Shane Goodwin (13) returned to pick off Marlow to claim a Rams 4-2 in heat 11, and then was joined by Bradley Law (11+2) for maximum points two races later, Iain Johnson (16) and Marlow beaten as the Vipers hopes of claiming a late victory faltered. Ramsgate finished things with the minor places in heat 14, the win—only their second at the circuit in 22 meetings—extending their unbeaten league run to 11 and setting them up nicely for the Division One Cup semi final between the two sides.
Ramsgate will take on Southampton in the sixth successive all-British League European Cup final after both sides prevailed against European League opposition in the last four. Against Pori the Rams made in nine meeting wins out of ten in the competition in progressing to their third straight final, Bradley Law top scoring with 13+1 in the 42-48 victory in Finland. Southampton meanwhile added to their success in Plock with a 56-34 home win over the Poles in the second leg of their tie.
Southampton followed up qualification to their first European Cup final since lifting the trophy in SL15 with an away win double in domestic competitions. The first came at Dunmow, 40-50, in the opening leg of their third round KO Cup tie, the Lair continuing to provide fond memories for the Scorpions, who have now won at the circuit in six of their last seven visits there. A current division two side dispatched, a future one would follow. However where Dunmow trailed throughout against the Scorpions, top flight basement side St Peters more than held their own for the opening 12 heats, with 5-1’s from unbeaten pairing Craig Rowntree (15) and Paul Adams (13+2) proving to be the Scions eventual undoing as they lost out 42-48. That leaves Terry Meech’s side 15 points adrift of safety, Southampton remain second in the standings, their gap to leaders Ramsgate a daunting but not insurmountable eight points.
Laceby are up to sixth after leapfrogging Sankey in the standings with a win at the Warrington based club. The fortunes of the two sides have somewhat mirrored each other in recent weeks, the defeat for the Sharks extending their run of meetings without a victory to six, while Laceby are now unbeaten in six in the league. Henrik Garics (13+1) raced to four heat wins in five races in the Avenues 43-47 success.
A couple of months ago Jericho was the opposition as Manor recorded their biggest ever division two win, that came on home shale for the Miracles, this week the two sides—who are both in the bottom three—met at The Pound, with Andy Barton’s side matching their 35-55 success to record what is club’s new best ever away win. Alex Old scored a season best paid 16 for the visitors as the record was set, the 28 year old racing to four of the visitors 11 heat wins and a second in a heat 14 5-1. In extending their winning run to five in the league Manor have closed the gap between themselves and safety to just a single point, and with the gap to the top three now down to six a late promotion bid for the club is not out of the question.
Tottenham and Lye boosted their hopes of promotion from division three in SL18 after both picked up away draws in the latest round of fixtures. The latter gained a point at Bolsover thanks to a last heat Denis Lagutin (15)/Alois Jarolim (14+2) 5-1, the Tigers had trailed their hosts by 12 after heat eight. Tottenham were also struggling on their trip to Gateshead, they recovering from 36-24 down after ten heats to take a share of the spoils with two 5-1’s and two 4-2’s in the closing races, Alexey Simakov (11+2) winning two and finishing second to team mate Andreas Bild (12+2) in another.