MATCH REPORT: Heckmondwike still after elusive first win
Sheffield Rockets lined up against Heckmondwike Cycle Speedway for this midweek Northern League one encounter expecting a close contest.
The visitors, though bottom of the league, recently pushed Edinburgh and A&T to narrow home losses. Sheffield were without Radek Handke, Damian Zareba and Kyle Holland, promoting Matt Parrott, Luke and Niall Morton to the team. Crucially Heckmondwike were without Jake Wood, and they would miss him more than Rockets would miss their heat leaders.
The match began with Bobby McMillan winning from grid two, with Darren Kent holding out Niall Morton. Race two and Sheffield are on for a 7-3 from Jason Burke and Aiden Owen. It needed a brilliant last bend pass from Adam Watson on Owen to split the Sheffield pair for another home 6-4. Pawel Idziorek took an easy win in heat three to keep the gap at 4 points. Burke sped from the tapes in heat 4, with Niall Morton getting the better of Richard Wells on the first lap to join his partner for a second Rockets 7-3.
Next up and Richard Hudson (2) and Owen (4) gate from ‘outs’ to take successive 7-3’s, this time over Kent and Adam Watson, with Owen repelling Watson’s attempts at a pass. A thrilling heat 6 sees McMillan inflict defeat on Idziorek, with the young pole trying everything to make a pass. Adam Watson wins race 7, but the respite is short lived as Burke and Owen slam in another 7-3 to make the interval scores 49-31 in Sheffield’s favour. With Heckmondwike having claimed inside grids would we see the Rockets charge fade? The answer was yes. But only after Zach Smurthwaite and Niall Morton take the maximum seven points in heat 9.
Three drawn heats follow. Idziorek winning heats 10 & 12, while Kent assists Wells in relegating Luke Morton to last place in heat 11. Burke comes out in heat 14 and completes a four race maximum. Which now just left a tasty third meeting between McMillan and Idziorek for the grand finale. Idziorek leads from the start with McMillan throwing the kitchen sink into every corner. The young Pole taking a good win and a 19 point score. One McMillan broadside almost brought down the chasing Kent, but the veteran kept his bike upright for third place and a Heckmondwike heat advantage, their only one of the night.
Final score is surprisingly comfortable for the Rockets at 88-62. Sheffield’s young guns had performed well after being asked to step up into the team, although it was veteran Burke that took the honours with his maximum score. For Heckmondwike Idziorek was a joy to watch, with his blistering pace. Adam Watson was always in the thick of the action while Richard Wells found the home riders just too quick. Darren Kent’s dislike of the Cookson track continued with a below par score from his own high standards.
SHEFFIELD – Bobby McMillan 17+1 (5), Jason Burke 16(4), Zach Smurthwaite 12+2(4), Aiden Owen 11+2(4), Richard Hudson 10+1 (3), Niall Morton 10+2(4), Matt Parrott 8+1(3), Luke Morton 4(3)
HECKMONDWIKE – Pawel Idziorek 19(5), Adam Watson 13(5), Darren Kent 10+1(5), Richard Wells 8(5), Justin Naylor 6(5), Laura Watson 6(5), Tom Whitwam DNR, Will Naylor DNR
The Division Three match (for under 13’s) saw the visitors track three riders. Will Naylor taking three smart wins after finishing third in his first race. Tom Whitwam showed what a talent he his with two excellent races against home star James Bunting. Whitwam caught Bunting napping in heat 4, springing a response from the Sheffield rider who had to pull out his best efforts to stay in front. They met again in heat 12 and another very close race followed, Bunting again getting the verdict after being pushed to the limit. Harvey Wells had his own battles with Joe Brownell and Logan Perkins. Sheffield riders were also having their own personal battles with Sam Haines, Niamh Morton and Jack Brownell all having their moments. The resulting 79-33 victory for Sheffield temporarily puts them back at the top of the table. However, with Sheffield not in action now until September the door is open for Astley to re-take top spot.
SHEFFIELD – James Bunting 16, Sam Haines 14, Jack Brownell 11, Niamh Morton 11, Charlie Cottam 10, Joe Brownell 9, Logan Perkins 8.
HECKMONDWIKE – Will Naylor 14, Tom Whitwam 14, Harvey Wells 5.