AT A CANTER
Colts build advantage with Belfast win
Houstoncontinue to set a blistering pace at the top of division one with another set of back-to-back leagues wins taking them 11 points clear. Crucially the first of those was recorded at second placed Belfast, the ‘must-win’ for the Sinks turning sour with a Radim Rabas (8) fall in heat 14. Cameron Adams and reserve Benjamin Nolan (6+2) picked up maximum points in the re-run of that race for the visitors, a result which took them in front for the first time in the fixture. Momentum was now with the Colts and Blake White (12) and Ludoslaw Jaworski (12+2) exuded belief that this was theirs when lining up at the tapes in the decider, Mikael Tolleson had beaten both two races earlier but not this time, the Houston pair quickest to the first corner and the race was over. And it seems is the title race, with a home six point win over Heath following, George Seymour’s side are not only on course for their first title since SL1, but are set to break all records in doing so. They are currently averaging over two points a meeting despite the fact that the second half aggregate bonuses have yet to kick-in, while their victory at Belfast ensures they’ll finish with a club record number of away wins in the season, that figure now stands at eight, even breaking the league best of 12—set by Lincoln in SL4—is not out of the question. The defeat was Belfast’s second at home against Houston this season, a remarkable turnaround in fortunes for the Colts given they’d lost their previous 21 competitive fixtures at the venue. A later draw for the Sinks at Bradford—secured with a last heat 5-1—keeps them in second spot in the standings, they ending the week three points clear of Brookwood.
A ninth successive all British final in the European Cup was added to the schedule was both holders Long Eaton and three-times winners Belfast completing aggregate last four wins this week. Belfast’s 23 point success over Horsens was their biggest in their ten ties against a European League opponent, Mikael Tolleson (15) and Radim Rabas (10+2) both scoring maximums in their 57-32 second leg win. Long Eaton missed out on the leg victory in Gyor by two points, but still sailed through by 22 on aggregate.
Swindon dropped out of the division two promotion places for the first time this season after suffering a maiden home defeat of the campaign with the visit of Solihull. A fall and subsequent exclusion from the re-run of heat six for home number one Frantisek Adamcik (5) proved to be the turning point in the meeting, the Scorpions winning that race 4-2 to take the lead in the clash, one they would hold for the remainder of the night. A 5-1 from Kim Siemsen (10) and Raymond Melton (5+2) took them six clear by the end of heat 11, while a 4-2 in heat 14 clinched the visitors the points in a meeting which finished 44-46 in their favour. They climb to second despite having been held to a home draw by Epping earlier in the week, visiting number six Risto Pelto scoring paid ten in that, a point gained on the road for the Stags then, but two would be lost at home with the visit of Caversham. 5-1’s in heats seven and eight had given Epping a ten point lead against the Swans, but David Grainger’s side hit back to win by one, they benefiting from a heat 14 calamity for the hosts in which neither Damian Hodges (9) nor Vadim Kozel (11) managed to complete. The Swans fourth away win of the campaign lifts them to within a point of the promotion places.
Alfreton scored three 5-1’s in the opening five races as they moved back into the top three of division two with a 42-48 win at Milton Keynes. Six different riders were involved in the early maximums for the visiting side, including second string Kieran Grantham (11), who went on to add victories in heat seven and 14 to the Archers cause, the latter over tactical substitute Charlie Goddard (7) proving to be the meeting winner. Heat leader Luke Nichols scored just one point for the Mystics in the defeat, earlier in the week he was one of six different heat winners for his side as they beat bottom side Wavedon 44-46 to record their first away victory of the season.
Stirling moved to within a point of division three leaders Herne Bay with a 42-48 win at Harringay in which visiting second string Aaron Campbell (14+1) scored his first ever five ride maximum. Elsewhere Steeple extended their unbeaten league run to four with the help of a 41-49 victory at bottom side Mansfield, the Stars ending the week fourth, just points difference off the promotion places.
Long Eaton’s Adam Lucas got his defence of the WU21 title off to a winning start in Richmond where he scoring 13 to top the standings in the semi final by a point from Czech teenager Jan Tomanek. His British rival Harry Nicholls (9) overcame a heat 12 exclusion to qualify through from fifth spot. Finland and Epping’s Risto Pelto (14) won the semi final at Houston, a meeting in which Brit’ Alex May (12) finished second.