FOURS OR NOTHING
Long Eaton fire blanks
Setbacks in three separate competitions this week leave Long Eaton in danger of ending the season empty handed, the SL6 champions falling 12 points adrift in their title defence after failing to win for the second successive league meeting at the Perksdome, a draw against relegation zone sitters Heath was followed by a defeat there to Totton in the first leg of the European Cup, meetings which proceeded the club’s exit from the Division One Cup against Cranford. Heading to the Devon circuit four points adrift of the Yellowjackets, it came as no surprise that Martin Smith’s side failed to reach the final of that competition for the first time, Cranford going through by ten after completing their semi final aggregate success with 5-1’s in heats 13 and 14 in this weeks return leg. Last years runners-up Belfast will take on Dave Lewis’s side for the silverware, the Sinks successfully defending a 16 point first leg lead at Houston in their semi final, a 5-1 from Nyek Timko (10+2) and Jacek Sokolowski (13+2) taking the Irish side through with two heats to spare. Hopes that Long Eaton’s debut season in the European Cup would end in success lie in tatters following a second half turnaround in the scores in the first leg of the final, three 5-1’s from Miksa Mathe (18) and Cameron Adams (11+3) in the closing stages earning holders Totton a 43-47 ‘half-time’ lead, with their home meeting to come. Earlier Heath secured only their third away league point of SL7 at the Rifles, visiting top man Olcay Fugleberg (14+1) completing his maximum with a draw securing last heat victory over Balder Bystrom (12) and Ondrej Valis (11+1).
Simon Snow became the first rider to win both the WU19 and 21 titles after scoring a maximum 15 in the final of the latter in Oslo this week. Snow warmed up for his GP debut by beating Belfast’s Kim Siemsen (13) into second, a rider who was also bidding to complete the unique double, Snow—now 19—having passed on his under 19 title to Siemsen earlier in the campaign. It was a fantastic week for Totton riders on the individual front, not only did Snow win the WU21’s put he also picked up the main prize money for his club in their own youth event, the Totton Tear Up, while Joseph Howarth won a reserve individual at Sedgley and Miksa Mathe the Yorkshire Tyke Trophy at Bradford.
The current top two in the second tier—Caversham and Bradford—will fight it out for the Division Two Cup, both though left it late to complete their semi finals victories this week, the two going through by four on aggregate against Sedgley and Solihull respectively after scoring last heat 4-2’s. Sedgley had got to within two points of the aggregate lead as early as heat five of their return home leg, that’s as close as they would get though with the Swans quelling the comeback with the use of Duncan Jordan (15) as a tactical substitute in heat six, a 5-1 from the 41 year old and Radim Rabas (12+2) in that was following by a Jordan victory in a 4-2 in the next. A second home side 5-1 in heat 13 gave the Sprites late hope of success, Jordan and Rabas though saw their side through in the last heat decider. Bradford were taken right to the wire too despite holding Solihull to a draw in the first leg of their semi final and having home advantage in the second, Sarkis Evanoff (15) eventually ending the Scorpions challenge with victory over Zeko Pinter (12+1) in the last.
A 14 point first leg lead proved to be enough, but only just for Herne Bay, who are through to the Division Three Cup final in their first season in the sport following a 89-91 aggregate semi final victory over Leyton. Simon Bergman (11) picked up the winning points for Tony Cope’s side in heat 15 of this weeks return leg at the Mustangs, the Swede taking the chequered flag ahead of the previously unbeaten Charlie Hamilton (14) in the decider. Third tier promotion rivals Alfreton await in the final, the Archers completing a comprehensive 28 point aggregate victory over Swindon in the second of the last four ties.
Wavedon—who began the week sixth—find themselves bottom of the division two for the first time this season after suffering back-to-back defeats, the first a 40-50 home loss to Bradford. Sarkis Evanoff (15) scored his 15th full maximum of the league campaign in the Speedsters victory, they end the week a point off top spot having since extended their unbeaten league run to five.
Herne Bay returned to the top of the division three table following their first away league win in four, the Flyers defeating Blythe 42-48 on the road as reserve Alan Atkinson raced to his first two heat wins of the season on his way to figures of 10+2 from five. 24 year old Atkinson recently moved to the club in a £10,000 deal from Long Eaton, his career league heat win tally prior to this week was six from 192 races!