MATCH REPORT: Aces win exciting match at the Graves
Two top sides lined up at the Graves with, with Wednesfield knowing they were the favourites, as the Stars looked to cause an upset. The Aces lined up without top rider Paul Heard, but still posted a formidable side featuring their multi-British champion Lee Aris, Welsh International Ben Mould, and multiple British Finalists Chris Jewkes & Mark Griffiths. The Stars had Scottish Internationals Kyle Holland & Jason Burke in their side, alongside Young England Internationals Aiden Owen & Richard Hudson, to provide the experience in their side.
Heat one saw the first heat advantage of the day as Cox passed Holland for a 6-4, while Owen did the same to Griffiths in heat two to leave the Aces their two point lead. However, in heat three, Doherty passed Watson & Hudson on the same bend up the inside to give Wednesfield a maximum heat advantage, a feat the Rowley-Jewkes pairing could not repeat on heat four as Turner passed Rowley, forcing Jewkes to pass Burke on the last bend for a 5-5. Heat five and another drawn heat looked likely, till Holland tried to pass Cox round the outside and fell. The unfortunate youngster was excluded after being unable to continue, leaving Smurthwaite alone against Rowley & Cox. He held them for two laps, before Cox pulled off another inside pass and let Rowley through to extend Wednesfield’s lead to eleven.
Watson dropped Griffiths on the first bend for a 5-5 in heat six, before Doherty was excluded for slowing the race down in heat seven after Aris went round Turner to give the Stars a 5-4 heat advantage. Heat eight and nine were both drawn heats, leaving the scores at half time Sheffield 39, Wednesfield 49.
Hudson had to pass Everiss on the last bend in heat ten to claim a drawn heat and extend Wednesfield’s lead to twelve, before in heat heat eleven, Owen had to pass Doherty and Aris had to pass Morton for a 5-5 and leave that lead intact. They extended it to twenty one after heat thirteen off the gates, after Hudson suffered a tapes exclusion in heat twelve. Morton had to pass Everiss on the outside when Burke & Doherty fell, Doherty taking the points from Burke for a 5-5 in heat fourteen. Aris moved at the grids in heat fifteen, allowing Owen to hold Rowley, as the Stars claimed only their second heat advantage of the match.
The Griffiths-Jewkes pairing claimed a 7-3 off the tapes in heat sixteen, before a big shock looked to be on the cards in heat seventeen when Morton led Aris from the gates as Burke held Mould, before the Wednesfield rider powered round the youngster & Mould fell after hitting Burke’s back wheel for a drawn heat. The last race saw the Stars stop the Aces reaching a century as Hudson won for a 5-5, ending the match with the scores Sheffield 78, Wednesfield 98.
For the Stars, Niall Morton and Aiden Owen achieved at least a 5-5 in all their heats with some good gates & passes, while Chris Turner, Adam Watson & Richard Hudson were always in the thick of the action. Lee Aris was unbeaten apart from his tapes infringement for the Aces, while Chris Jewkes lost only to Turner & Ben Mould dropped his only points in that last race fall, as Roger Cox & Scott Doherty also pulled off some powerful passes. In the end, it was a resounding victory for Wednesfield as they held onto the lead they didn’t once drop, but the young Sheffield side pushed all the way and made for a very exciting match.
Sheffield 78 Niall Morton 15+1 (5), Chris Turner 12 (4), Aiden Owen 11+3 (5), Richard Hudson 11 (5), Adam Watson 10+2 (5), Jason Burke 8+1 (5), Zach Smurthwaite 7 (3), Kyle Holland 4+1 (4)
Wednesfield 98 Chris Jewkes 16+3 (5), Ben Mould 16+1 (5), Lee Aris 16 (5), Harry Everiss 12 (4), Roger Cox 10+1 (4), Mark Griffiths 10 (4), Haydn Rowley 10 (4), Scott Doherty 8+3 (5)
Referee: Mike Legge (Poole)