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Wilmington make KO Cup history

Wilmington have become the first ever side from division three to reach the KO Cup final after eliminating Whitemoor from this years competition. It’s more semi-final heartbreak for the title chasing Witches, they exiting at the last-four stage for a third time in four years and a fourth time overall, leaving the KO Cup as the only major competition they have yet to reach the final of. Trevor Walker’s side began well enough in the defence of their slender first leg six point lead at the Common Lane Arena, two early 4-2’s helping them extend that advantage. It wasn’t long however before the Wombats got into their stride, Christian Lindblad (13+1) and Vitas Kolesnichenko calmly notching up a much needed 5-1 in heat five to take the hosts in front on the night, the ever-improving Michael Langhorne (15) backed that up by beating Terry Duffield in a heat six 4-2. Langhorne would go on to complete his second maximum of this years competition, with another defeat of Duffield in heat 13 taking the hosts four up on aggregate at that stage of the meeting. The tie wasn’t won yet however, the Witches taking it into a last heat decider with a penultimate race Duffield/Bleidilis Vitas 4-2, and the same pair would return for the final race in a bid to snatch glory at the death. The night though would belong to Iain Brine’s Wilmington and his impressive Scandinavian youngsters, Langhorne and Lindblad responding to the growing cheers lap after lap after making starts which sent them in front coming out of the first bend, the two pulling away to a 5-1 that would see their side through by six. A third top flight scalp in this years competition for the minnows, will there be a fourth?

TODAY: Shorts

Wilmington will get that chance of a fourth victory against a top flight side when they take on Newport Pagnell in this years KO Cup final. The Knights—who lifted the trophy in SL24 and 25—back in the decider for a third time after coming through their tricky semi-final second leg at Bridgwater with a three point aggregate victory under their belts. They led for much of the night after taking the lead with a 0-5 in heat three, Kostas Holub (7) and Lee Cooper (8+1) benefiting from falls and subsequent exclusions for first Kevin Dobinson (6+1) and then Skjold Likness. It wasn’t all luck though, their riders also won four of the next six fairly to maintain control of the tie, one they would secure victory with two races to spare thanks to the minor places from Denis Rask (11) and Andy James (9+1) in heat 13. The loss adds to the continuing cup heartbreak for the Baboons, their ‘nearly-men’ tag well and firmly attached as they have now reached at least the last-four of the competition in each of the last five seasons, but have still yet to win it.


Success though firmly on the cards for Bridgwater in the Division One Cup after they won the first leg of that final at Whitemoor. A 41-48 victory for the Baboons in the battle of the two KO Cup semi-final losers at the Sheepcroft, much better from Kevin Dobinson (11) on this occasion, he picking up wins in a 5-1 and a 4-2 alongside Skjold Likness (6+2), while his number one Bernd Hoover (14) enjoyed an even better night, dropping just a point in the contest. Success too for the away sides in the lower division versions of the competition, Cestmir Sulak (14) and Staffan Sandquist (13+1) dropped just a point apiece as Nottingham won at Netherton 41-49 in the Division Two Cup final, in the third tier Wilmington won by the same scored at Halesowen as Michael Langhorne (15) notched up yet another maximum.


Sedgemoor inched closer to their second successive league title with a win at Chalvington. A bit of luck went their way when Daniel Wedin (9) was excluded for the hosts in heat 11, Mike Conlon (16+1) winning a 5-1 there. Conlon however would get the better of his opposite number again in a last heat decider, he and Sebastian Koch (16+1) completing a 43-47 victory with maximum points for the visitors as Wedin finished last. Second placed Whitemoor—who were eight down at one stage—could only manage a draw at bottom of the table Plymouth and slip two points adrift of the Rebels in the table.


In-form Oxford made it five unbeaten in the league with a 39-51 victory at Bolsover. Mario Gottardi (15) scored his fifth maximum of the campaign in the win at the bottom of the table side. Wordsley consolidated their place in second with a draw at March, secured with a last heat 5-1. March’s earlier meeting at Maldon had also ended all-square.


A first GP win of the series for Rugby’s Valeri Elin (13) returned in this years British round in March. Home nation rider Mike Conlon (11) took second after defeating Bernd Hoover and Bengt Karim in a race-off.


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