WE HAVE LIFT OFF
Houston open with away win
For the first time in the club’s history Houston have won their first two league fixtures of the season. One of 13 league ever-presents the Colts won the division one title for the first and only time way back in the inaugural British League season, they had to wait until the second month of the campaign to win on the road that year, this time they broke their away duck first meeting in. Despite having only just been promoted back to the top flight Houston have been tipped to challenge once more for the title in SL10, has have their opening day hosts Hallamshire, which made the fixture even more intriguing. £1/2million signing Blake White (13) wasted no time in making an impact for his new club, claiming his first competitive race win for the Colts in heat one of the meeting, home top man Julian Harrison (14) soundly beaten into second by the Kiwi. Houston riders went on to win two of the next three, however after picking up back-to-back 4-2’s the Sheffield side at last get their noses in front with six races gone. Any hopes they could build to victory from there were certainly misplaced, Houston hit back with a 5-1 in heat seven from newcomers Cameron Adams (10) and Ornos Adami (4+1), more maximums followed in heats 11 and 13, White winning both, alongside key reserve Matthew Gibbs (9+2) in the former and fellow heat leader Ludoslaw Jaworski (10+1) in the latter. Now six up the league points were secured for Houston when Adams beat Harrison to the win in heat 14, a great start to the league campaign which they backed up superbly at home with a comprehensive 52-38 victory over title favourites Long Eaton.
Heathbeat Stourbridge 40-50 on their travels to top the division one table on points difference from Houston at this early stage of the season. A heat 14 second place from Jordan Day (7+1) confirmed victory for Tim Foster’s side, the 36 year old would though finish the meeting without a heat win, not so his fellow heat leaders Daniel Williams (14+1) and Olcay Fugleberg (14+1), they completing their night by combining for 5-1’s in heats 13 and 15 which saw them secure personal maximums, just as they’d done in the Spitfires opening day home success over Sedgley by the same score.
Belfast (18) were surprise non-qualifies from the opening round of the SL10 Club Pairs Championship after finishing fourth of seven in the tie at Harringay. Hosts Mathew Chapman (17) and David Torborg (9) topped the standings for the division three side in the meeting, scoring 5-1’s over the partnerships from Mildenhall, Steeple and Houston in doing so. Houston—represented by pre-season signings Blake White and Cameron Adams—responded to their defeat to the Hoods by picking up maximum points themselves against Steeple and then Mildenhall in the last race of the night to prevent their own shock elimination. Houston finished third overall, qualifying behind Harringay and second division Alfreton. Stourbridge became the second top flight side to exit after Harry Nicholls beat both their riders in heat 19 of the first round tie in Herne Bay, which meant Nicholls’s Brookwood would finish a point clear of Stourbridge in the meeting standings. And with Epping losing the last heat to Wavendon 5-1 the Spitfires would go through in third spot, behind Wavendon, Herne Bay topping the standings with 27 points having opened the meeting with four straight 5-1’s.
As in two of the other three ties home advantage would help Buxton win their first round Pairs meeting, the Bees scoring 24 in finishing clear of fellow qualifiers Stirling and Long Eaton, top flight Hallamshire exited after finishing fourth. Sedgley (21) meanwhile won the tie in Stepps, finishing a point clear of the hosts and Bradford.
For the first time since their promotion to the second tier three years ago Swindon top the divisional standings. A 53-37 win over Alfreton sent the Alleycats two points clear of the pack, the key result though came on the opening day, when Gareth Glover’s side claimed a four point success at one of the favourites for promotion, Caversham. A brace of wins apiece from second string Vlas Kazan (7+1) and Vanya Golub (8+1) helped Swindon to victory on their first competitive visit to Kings Meadow, the former—who joined on loan late in pre-season from Wavendon—beating home heat leaders Knute Vik (13+1) and Vincenzo Sammarco (12+2) late on, while Golub twice got the better of Swans number one Soren Engell (8+1).
Stepps were the only side in division three to get the season off to an unbeaten start and therefore lead the first published standings. Only a draw on the road though for the Serpents at Mansfield despite leading by four with two heats to go, the hosts scoring a heat 14 5-1 in denying the visitors both league points.