Newcomers take down Spitfires
SL6 finalists Heath have gone out of the KO Cup in the opening round for the first time in their history, the Spitfires failing to recover from their first leg shocker at league rookies Shetland, who’d done enough to progress by the end of heat 14 of the Midlands return. Miroslav Pen’s (9) victory over Justin Pershing (6+1) in the penultimate race saw the Ponies sprint past the winning post, a furlong or so behind Heath got into their stride and picked up a 5-1 in the last, the consolation reducing their aggregate deficit to five points. Paul Hunt’s second string meanwhile were in the winners enclosure contemplating a second round tie with Herne Bay, the Flyers at that stage after inflicting a six point aggregate defeat on perennial cup strugglers Mansfield, the Yorkies there to make up the numbers yet again despite their league form, they making a first round exit from the competition for the ninth successive season. Stirling’s first round aggregate defeat against Stoke was their eighth in a row, the winners of the all third division clash going on to meet Houston, who will count themselves lucky to be in the last 16 despite holding Wavedon to a draw on their travels in leg one, the Colts progressing by just two points from the Scottish return. Houston will line-up in the second round for a ninth time, a record equalled by both Belfast and Totton, the former receiving a bye in round one, the latter going through by 30 against Leyton. Only one of the pair will be in round three though with the two heavyweights drawn together in the KO Cup for a record fourth time, Belfast winning the final of the SL7 competition the last time they met in it.
A third 5-1 of the meeting saw Alfreton complete their ‘giant-killing’ of Caversham with a heat to spare of this weeks first round second leg meeting, two up from the opening clash the Archers had extended their lead to 12 before the Swans got a heat advantage on the board, and although it began a run of three straight 4-2’s for the visitors, their demise was delayed rather than prevented. A brace of 4-2’s in heats 12 and 13 won in turn by Luke Nichols (9+1) and new signing Ingmar Slinde (12+1) took the Archers to the brink of round two, their spot confirmed with a 5-1 in the next won by reserve Robert Hubbard (6). It’s another top flight side for Alfreton in round two, with the name of Hallamshire picked out the hat alongside theirs.
A third straight away league win—and their biggest on the road in over two years—has taken Long Eaton to the top of the division one table for the first time this season, a 37-53 success at Epping coupled with Totton’s six point loss at Bradford seeing the top two switch places at the head of the standings. A heat one fall from home number one Jacek Sokolowski (6) set the tone for a another disappointing evening for the Stags against the Rifles, it handing them the first of eight heat advantages on the night. Long Eaton’s sixth league win from 11 meetings at the High Beech venue was confirmed as early as heat 13, with an Ondrej Valis (14)/Adam Lucas (13+2) 5-1 taking them over the line. Belfast meanwhile moved up to a season high third with victory at Caversham, the Sinks second straight top flight win at Kings Meadow—and their fifth from six in all competitions—secured with a last heat Ludoslaw Jaworski (15+2)/Nyek Timko (14+2) 5-1, that the partnership’s third maximum in the final five races—and fourth of the meeting—as the Sinks overturned a ten point deficit in running out 43-47 winners.
Sedgley’s strong recent form—they’ve won nine of their last ten in all competitions—has helped them eke out a two point lead over Houston at the top of division two, with their latest success beating a club record that had stood for nearly eight years. The 37-53 win at Wavendon is their biggest on the road in all competitions, surpassing their 14 point second round cup success over Halifax set back in SL1. Remarkably Shaun Talbot was there for both, the club ever-present top scoring with 14 for the Witches in this weeks win. A much tighter affair meanwhile saw Milton Keynes pick up their first away win of the campaign at Ernsford Grange, 44-46, two wins from reserve Jason Richardson (9+1) helping the Mystics pick up all three points from the clash which took his side into the promotion places.
Mansfield’s great start to SL9 continued with a club record equalling away victory at Ferndown, the 34-56 success their third in a row in double figures on the road, and one which extends their advantage at the top of the standings to two points. Buxton remain second after following up a home draw against Stepps with a ten point win at Steeple, Shetland climb to third following their 44-46 win at Leyton.