Wimbledon stun title hopefuls
A run of just three league wins in 11 now for Coalville since they went top of the table, with back-to-back defeats this week leaving the Kings seven points off the leaders pace. Those pacesetters are Leeds who in contrast to the team they replaced at the summit are in a great run of form, the Jags unbeaten in six top flight fixtures—a sequence which includes a draw at Huntingdon in their latest away meeting—they also putting down a marker for the rest of SL26 by beating the Kings home and away in the KO Cup to reach the semi finals of that competition, a 16 point aggregate victory in that tie completed with a 50-40 home second leg win. It was a last heat 5-1 from Nathan Kay (11) and Aaron Macaulay (11+1) which saw Darren Evans’s side add to their away points tally at Huntingdon, meanwhile at Coalville visitors Wimbledon were also rewarded for an identical finish on their visit to Kings Meadow, Daniel Waller (14) and Stig Martinson (9+1) bringing about away league win number three for the Werewolves with a commanding show of power from the gate, Mark Jolly (10+1) and Andrey Kusov (9+1) both lacking the necessary grip from the start needed to challenge their rivals at the first bend. Bad starts all night cost the hosts in the meeting, just six wins in total for the home septet, with all seven of reserve David Talbot’s points having been earned by passing riders. The 18 year old finished with a score of paid ten—a best since his £63,000 move to the club—still though he finished without a race win, something five of the visitors managed to achieve.
Leeds will need to beat top flight upstarts New Way over two legs if they are to reach their first KO Cup final in over a decade, the Nighthawks continuing their emphatic rise in the sport by confirming their last four spot after completing a two point aggregate win over Cradley Heath this week. The Cobras had been looking to reach the semi finals for the first time themselves, in their case after ten years in the league, however it’s the club that’s less that three seasons old that made it through from the third round tie, with the minor places from Garry Bowman (11) and Sergey Lozhin (13+1) sealing their passage. Earlier on in the meeting a Lozhkin winning 5-1 had taken New Way four in front on aggregate, but the use of tactical substitutes helped the Cobras retake the lead and they were favourites to win until heat 14, a race in which the hosts retook the aggregate advantage thanks to a first win of the night for Ben Page and a second place finish from 32 year old Brendan Kirkham (9+3), who with a 6.28 GSA is far took good to be a reserve. With Verwood and Stowmarket also making it through their ties it’s an all top flight semi final line up in the KO Cup for the third time in four years, the former there for the first time since they won the competition in SL21 thanks to an eight point aggregate success over second division Bradwell, meanwhile three times winners Stowmarket beat Derby home and away in their quarter final tie to reach that stage for the ninth time in 13 years!
Horsens’ Henri Myllyniemi a winner last week and a 1-2 for European League riders this, with American veteran Steven Johnson claiming success in the second GP of the SL26 series in Prague. The 37 year old won his first major meeting in four years when picking up the Pacific title earlier this season, his good form continued with his second career GP win on the Czech circuit, four wins and a second behind Mark Jolly (10) in heat 12 taking the Pori star to the meeting win by a clear three points ahead of Magnar Dudek (2nd) and Aaron Macaulay (3rd). Mylyniemi (10) still heads the World Championship standings, his lead at the top cut to three points by Johnson, who climbs to second.
A first defeat in ten in the league for Brickhill as they went down 46-44 at Linlithgow, but at win at the same venue for the Tigers has left them in a healthy position at the halfway stage of their Division Two Cup semi final. The Tigers—who have lifted the trophy twice—adding to their great record in the competition with a 42-48 first leg win, Jack Bird, who for tactical reasons is not currently being used in the league by Glenn Ford, paid for six at reserve from his three rides in the success, with his partner in the bottom two, Christopher Butler, scoring paid ten. Elsewhere in the division Derby boosted their promotion hopes with a 44-46 win at Dudley, both league points secured there with a last heat Andreas Magnus (13+1)/Pavel Strihavaka (12+2) 5-1. That result left Dudley perilously close to the drop zone, however their relegation worries were later eased by a first away win of the campaign, the Tigers picking up both league points 44-46 with the help of race wins from all of their top five, including last weeks loan signing at second string, Yurgis Zizilev (8+2).