LEEDS KILL OFF GHOSTS
Gorleston’s survival bids fades
While Telford prosper in their first top flight season, fellow promoted sides Brickhill and Gorleston look certain to be heading back to division two, the pairing failing to win either of their league meetings this week as the second half of the season got underway. A home draw against Wimbledon—a meeting which they led in throughout until a last heat Stig Martinson (12)/Nathan Kay (15+1) 5-1—saw Brickhill pick up their first point in nearly three months, however they’ve recorded just three wins from 20 league fixtures since their promotion to the top flight and are now 18 points off safety. That poor win to meeting ratio is matched by Gorleston whose 26 point defeat at Willenhall was proceeded by a home 44-46 loss to Leeds, a side just one place above them in the standings. A strong showing from Piotr Rycak (14+1) and double Scandinavian Champion Brian Fernandez (12) wasn’t enough to prevent the Ghosts suffering their second home loss to the Jags this season, prior to which they’d won 12 out of 12 in the league against them at the Stadium of Shadows. The minor places from the otherwise poor Robert Martindale (3) and the relatively impressive reserve Stuart Cox (8+3) securing the victory for Leeds in heat 14, given their recent indifferent form promoter Darren Evans wouldn’t have wanted to rely on Simone Alidori (11) and Ned Tsekinis (12) in the last, whether they would have got a better result than the 1-5 against they mustered if it had mattered, is highly questionable. It’s those sort of races that has led Evans to make changes to his side this week, Tsekinis shipped out to Verwood in a deal which sees Dominic Bibi arrive at the Hawthorne for a £500,000 fee, the young Brit is joined in the squad by fellow teenager Marek Grabowski, the 17 year comes in on an assessed mark of 6.00, a lot to live up to considering he finished last in this years Polish Final. A rider with top flight pedigree in the guise of former world number six Kim Cedergren replaces Tsekins in the Jags top three, the Swede has not been in great form for Dudley—he scored eight as the Tigers were held to a home draw by Iwade in a division two promotion clash this week—so perhaps more significant is the recall by Evans of James Grant to bolster his heat leader trio, the 25 year old having put nearly two points on his average in his loan spell at division three leaders Beverley. Verwood meanwhile used some of the cash from the Bibi sale to get their hands on Ben Coulson, the £225,000 arrival from Derby will partner Tsekinis at second string, with 39 year old Alan Clark coming in from Dudley as the Vipers new number one.
The Dudley bottom four failed to beat an opponent in their combined 13 races as Iwade completed a Division Two Cup 41-49 win at the Tigers this week, the Colts wrapping up the victory—and a place in the semi finals of the competition—as early as Steve Vitale’s (13) third win of the night in heat 13. As group winners last years Division Three Cup runners-up will face Derby in the last four, The Bucks having finished second in the section topped by Huntingdon following their 50-40 home victory over Brockmoor. The Hunters will take on Linlithgow for a place in the final.
Holders Devon sneaked into the Division Three Cup semi finals after holding Keswick to a 46-44 win in their final group qualifier, the Demons going through to the last four—where they’ll meeting Group A winners Claygate—on points difference ahead of Glenholt. Beverley topped the standings and will take on Earley in the last four, both sides going through after home wins this week.
Home track rider Aaron Macaulay (13) picked up his third career British title at Willenhall, but only after Steve Wales (11) failed to win the final scheduled race of the night, the Peterborough rider finishing third in that having needed to win it to force a race-off for the silverware. World Champion Gavin Moss (12) missed out on top spot yet again, the 33 year old still looking for his first national title after early defeats to Ray Smith, Kenny Dornan and Chris Harris left him as runner-up in the meeting for the sixth time in his career! World number six Mark Butcher (6) meanwhile missed out on qualification to the Overseas final despite home advantage, the top eight from Willenhall will join the best from the Pacific Final—won by Peterborough’s Steve Johnson (11)—in that meeting.
Huntingdon extended their unbeaten run in division two to eight with a 51-39 victory over Brockmoor, who end the week in the promotion places, albeit some 14 points off the pace by the Hunters. Earlier Kazimierz Agafon (15) and Magnus Farnerud (13+1) scored a last heat 5-1 as Huntingdon fought back from an eight point deficit to draw their clash at Verwood, the Vipers ending the week bottom of the standings as a result.