MERRY ON THE MERSEY
Last gasp 5-1 takes Marauders through
Merseysideare into the semi finals of the Division One Cup in their first top flight season in five years, last years Division Two Champions coming from behind to beat Laceby 46-43 in their final first round qualifier and go through on points difference as group runners-up ahead of Sittingbourne and St Peters. A difference of three meeting points to be precise good enough for Merseyside, those coming in the final race against the Avenues thanks to a John Crisp (15) and Viktor Kocjan (13+1) 5-1, the latter—down at second string after losing over two points from his start of season GSA—finishing with his best figures of SL20. For Crisp it was maximum number two of three in the space of a month, he didn’t score any in the first ten weeks of the season. The signs of a pick up in form for Merseyside is much needed, they may still sit bottom of division one, but last week they brushed aside Bolsover in the KO Cup and are now into the knock out stages of another competition, winners of Group B Quantock await them in the semi finals. Quantock had already secured their spot in the last four, the three times defeated finalists went on to qualify as group winners by racing to a 44-46 victory at Altrincham, a last heat success for Mauro Bruno (13) over Andy Rose (9) ending any hopes the current holders had of making it through the first round this time around. Ramsgate finished second to the Rangers after seeing off Southampton with a bonus point gaining 52-38 home win over the Scorpions this week, the SL15 and 16 winners meet Don Valley next, a side that has lifted the trophy a record four times.
The remaining first round World Championship meetings took place this week with four of last years GP riders in action, including series winner John Crisp. All four qualified through to round two, with Exeter’s world number three Luke Miller (13) topping the standings at Brighton, while current champion Crisp (12) beat Artur Kulyk in a race-off to claim victory in Malmo. The win was the Merseyside rider’s fifth WSO meeting success in just over a year—that despite him not winning a GP in his World Championship topping season—he goes for win number six in the British Championship final next week in Southampton.
Southampton are the best placed of the four British sides in the European Cup first round to reach this years semi finals, the Scorpions winning the first leg of their opening tie against Pila, 54-36. The twice winners of the competition made a good night into a great one with 5-1’s in each of the final three heats of the meeting, John Shuttler’s side beat the same opponents at the same stage of the competition home and away two years ago. Ramsgate— defeated finalists in each of the last three years—meanwhile still have plenty of work to do if they are to reach the semi finals for the fifth straight season, Malmo limiting them to a four point first leg lead thanks to a strong performance from visiting top man, Marek Belic (15 from 6). Four points is also Sankey’s half-time advantage over Plock, that gained with a last heat Adam Roberts (15)/Simon Driffiled (12+1) 5-1, Exeter are in a slightly better position, with Graham Hancock (14+1) and Luke Miller helping them to a 48-41 first leg win over Prague.
A first ever win at Laceby bodes well for Quantock with the KO Cup second round tie between the two getting underway next week. The 44-46 success was also the Rangers first on the road of the SL20 division one campaign and sees them finish the week in a season high second in the standings, although some six points off Ramsgate’s pace at the top. Quantock trailed for much of the meeting, not taking the lead until a Wlod Szczepanski (12+2)/Corey Wolin (15+1) 5-1 in heat 13, the same two riders filled the minor places in the last heat decider to seal all three league points for their side.
Brighton won the big clash in division two, they beating then leaders Exeter 48-42 to go back top of the standings and inflict revenge on the Falcons, who beat them on the south-coast by four in the reverse fixture. The Bombers certainly benefited from the change of GSA’s which preceded the top of the table clash, with Alari Krom—who had dropped to reserve—racing to three wins in his season best score of 12+1. Exeter bounced back to draw their later meeting at Dunmow, where they scored 5-1’s in both heats 13 and 15.
Away win number four of the division three campaign but more woes at home for Tottenham, who followed up their 44-46 success at Border with an inexplicable eight point loss to Liden. Turnpikes riders managed just six wins between them on home shale, while four alone went to Liden reserve Stuart Greenwood (13+1), who has recently joined the club on loan from Ramsgate. Paul McLaughlin’s Medeswell meanwhile are back top of the table after extending their unbeaten league run to nine, their latest away success returned at Gateshead, 43-37.