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GAZELLES LEAP INTO LAST FOUR

Kent exit after shock defeat

Kent have once again failed to reach the semi finals of the KO Cup, the Spitfires exiting prior to the last four for the 11th successive season following a shock home defeat to Glasshoughton. Just two points up from the first meeting and in the relegation zone the Gazelles were clear underdogs heading into this weeks return leg of the all top flight third round tie, however Neil Howlett’s side—who are without an away league point in SL20—made it two victories in a row on the road in the competition, stunning their hosts into submission with a decisive final heat 5-1. Andy James (15) and Lee Walsh (13+2) picked up the maximum in the last, the latter surging inside the previously unbeaten home second string Lasse Schmiechel (13) to seal a single point victory on the night and a three point aggregate win. It had looked a long way back for the Gazelles after heat five, carnage the only word for it as both James and Bleidilis Vitas ended up on the deck after some re-grading of the surface, both though picked themselves up to win their next outings on the track, Vitas doing so in a heat eight 4-2, while James’s heat six victory as a tactical substitute was the first of four in a row for the world champion. Glasshoughton’s ninth semi final in the competition will be against Pennsylvania, the side that eliminated them in SL18 on their way to the silverware, the Pirates having qualified for their third straight last four tie with a comfortable 20 point third round win over division two side Newport Pagnell. Rugby also made light work of polishing off second tier opposition, the Gravediggers reaching the last four for the first time ever at the 20th time of asking after doing the double over Wordsley.

TODAY: Shorts

Sedgemoor are into the last four of the KO Cup after coming through a tricky tie with Oxford, the league rookies moving to within four points of the Rebels first leg lead on three separate occasions, before eventually succumbing in heat 15 of their home second leg, Bryan Baah picking up the victory which sent the three times winners into the semi finals for the fourth time in five years. Sedgemoor followed up the aggregate success with a fifth away win of their league campaign, it returned at Durham 41-49 following a last heat Baah (15)/Mark Allen (13+1) maximum. However earlier in the week the title challenger’s were held to a home draw by their last four KOC opponents, Rugby, a third 5-1 of that meeting involving Roy Frain (16+1) taking the Gravediggers within two points of their hosts heading into the final heat of the meeting. Frain beat Baah (13) to the chequered flag in the decider, while Tom Lynch forced his way past Allen on the final lap to snatch a vital point for third. As a result Sedgemoor end the week a point adrift of New Forest, who extended their tenure at the top to eight weeks with back-to-back wins, the second of which was returned at Colney Hatch, 43-47, in a meeting they were never headed in.

 

Netherton’s run of seven without defeat in division two came to a surprise end with a home loss to promotion rivals Newport Pagnell (43-47), Glenn Ford’s side picking up their second successive away win following a strong performance from their top five, each of the quintet scoring at least a point in every one of their combined 22 visits to the track. It was a different story at The Knackers Yard though for the Knights when they played host to leaders Smethwick, Adam Schofield—who’d been excluded for bringing down Teddy Thylander (10) in heat five—failing to finish a heat for a second time in the meeting in the penultimate race, sliding off his machine while trying pass Carl Davey for the lead, handing the Meerkats a 5-1 and a four point advantage on the night. The Knights cut that in half in the last, but still Smethwick claimed what was their sixth away league win of the campaign, their advantage at the top now nine points.

 

It’s now 13 unbeaten in the league for division three leaders Oxford, just a draw though for the Silver Machine in their latest fixture at Crowborough, hosts heat leader Mart Lemsula (15) winning the last to deny Ally Carrol’s side victory and earn himself only his second career maximum. That result allowed second placed Bridgwater to cut the gap between themselves and the pacesetters to two points, home and away wins this week for the Baboons, with the latter returned at Ashton 40-50, where Martin Skoog (15) raced to five of the visiting side’s 12 race successes. The Rangers bounced back to win at Pagham, 44-46, their mixed week was matched by Reading, who having lost at home to Birmingham by ten, went on to secure a 41-49 victory at Loughton with a heat 15 5-1.

 

Once again the GP line-up is dominated by English riders, the record equalling seven strong contingent will be led by New Forest’s Stephen Charnock (12) and Lee Cooper (13) of Newport Pagnell, who won their 3rd round World Championship meetings at Glasshoughton and Krakow respectively this week.

 

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