PANTHERS POUNCE ON SEMI SPOT
Win at Cradley takes Altrincham through
Altrinchamhave recovered from losing their first two group fixtures in this years competition to reach the semi finals of the Division One Cup for the second successive season. A 44-46 win at Cradley Heath this week sent the Panthers through to the last four as Group A runners-up to the unbeaten Don Valley, the Hammers had been looking to win by ten or more to pick up the bonus point victory they required to progress, a drawn result or any single digit win for the home side and it would have been Sankey celebrating. Cradley’s hopes suffered with heat one and five retirements for first Pavel Cisar and then Mark Powell, both races ended in 4-2’s for the visitors who always looked the more likely to gain the result they required, having the stand out rider in the meeting always helps, Vyacheslav Kuznetsov (15) untroubled on his way to a second straight maximum in the competition and his fifth in sixth weeks. It still though required a last heat 5-1 to see Altrincham reach the last four—where they’ll take on SL7 and 13 winners Southampton—Kuztnetsov joining forces with Jake Edwards (10+1) for the decisive score in the decider. Ramsgate—finalists in each of the past three seasons—finished second in Group B behind Southampton after Quantock failed to record the bonus point win over Laceby in their first round encounter, the Rangers falling short after failing to recover from the concession of heat five and eight 5-1’s. Ramsgate will now take on Don Valley in what is a repeat of last years final, the Rams lost that by ten, the defeat was one of three inflicted by the Vipers on them in cup ties in SL17.
Ramsgate have taken a two point lead at the top of the division one table, home and away wins moving them clear of Don Valley, who lost on their visit to the Rams, 49-41. Prior to the top of the table clash Phil Watmough’s side inflicted St Peters fourth home defeat of the season on them, the top flight rookies—now without a win in nine in all competitions—adrift from the off and throughout, Bradley Law (14+1) and Shane Goodwin (14+1) securing Ramsgate their third away league win of the season with a 5-1 in heat 13, two races later both completed their maximums with another such score as the visitors increased their winning margin to ten points. St Peters remain ninth, two points above Sandwell who ended a winless run of 11 in the league with a 46-44 win over Cradley Heath, who as a result drop into the relegation zone themselves. The damage was done for the Hammers earlier with a home defeat by Altrincham, Vyacheslav Kuznetsov (18) racing to six wins from six in that meeting as the Panthers recorded their first of two wins at the Dudley Wood Arena in the week.
There’s seemingly no stopping Newquay and Exeter in their pursuit of top flight racing, the two clubs locked on 27 points at the top of division two after both picked up the maximum six this week, that’s 11 more than fourth placed Sittingbourne. The Stags own promotion ambitions took a blow with the visit of Exeter to The Rut, the Falcons decisively taking the lead for the third time in the meeting with a last heat Simon Adzic (13)/Graham Hancock (14+1) 5-1, to leave the scores 44-46 in favour of the visitors and extend their unbeaten league run to a club record 11. Newquay meanwhile won by the same score at Swindon, the Knights overturning an eight point deficit in the clash with the help of four tactical substitutes, it wasn’t until a last heat Mark Burt (14) winning 4-2 though that Alan Stewart’s side took the lead in what was their first ever visit to the Statton Stadium. At the other end of the standings a 38-52 win for then bottom side Manor helped them end the week eighth, just a point adrift of safety, the Miracles securing their club record equalling win despite their riders winning just six races, crucially three of those six wins were turned into 5-1’s, with two of the others ending in 4-2’s.
Blackpool lead division three for the first time in their short history, with a 54-36 home win over Dalgety Bay taking them clear of Tottenham—who lost at Bolsover by two—however it was success at Somerset which set the Dukes on their way to the summit. Tim Foster’s side first ever away win came courtesy of a run of five 4-2’s in six races, all seven riders involved in the sequence, Lasse Munk Larsen (11) scoring six of the 20 points in the run after racing to heat nine and 13 victories.
Ramsgate’s Shane Goodwin (13) warmed up for next weeks British final with victory on his own track in the first round of the World Championship, the 23 year old topping the standings by a point from Sanel Tiganj (2nd) and Christian Bauer (3rd) to record his second career WSO event win. Goodwin is hoping his form this season—he’s improved his GSA at the Rams from 8.25 to 10.50—will earn him his first England call-up next week when the Lions take on Australia in the second of their SL18 International League Division One fixtures.