MATCH REPORT: Match at Redbraes goes down to the wire
Sheffield arrived at Redbraes with a depleted team from the side that beat Heckmondwike two weeks ago, Damian Zareba, Mick Knowles & Daniel Rushton all being unavailable and replaced by Luke Morton, Ellie Sullivan & Sam Haines, the latter two for their first appearances of the season.
The home side made four changes of their own, as Douglas Morgan, Callum Slight, Mark Lee & Markin Czarkowski were rested for the Division Two fixture, meaning Chris Lee, Jake Slight, Neil McPherson & Callum Cairney all returned to the side. The away side had not won away at Edinburgh in living memory, but were pushing for second place in the league, while the Falcons were fighting for that runners up spot & had confidence through their formidable home form.
Heat one gave the Rockets the lead straight away, as Lawrence fell on the first lap for a Sullivan-McMillan 7-3. The home side hit straight back with a maximum heat advantage of their own from the Slight-Hewitson pairing, and the match looked like it would be a cracker already. The scores stabilised in heat three as N.Morton won off the tapes from the McPherson-Greszla pairing, before the away side retook the lead when Lawrence took a second tumble in heat four, the McMillan-L.Morton pairing taking a 6-4 from Swanson. Heat five and the away side have established a six point lead, the Sullivan-Burke pairing taking another 7-3 from the Lee-Cairney pairing. Holland took second behind Greszla as McPherson held E.Morton to reduce Sheffield’s lead to four, while Lee won while N.Morton held Lawrence for L.Morton to take second to keep the gap at that. McMillan pulled off an inside pass on Hewitson to let Burke through in heat eight, but the two Scottish internationals fell as the latter came through for a restart with all four. Hewitson made no mistakes in the restart to win from McMillan, while Burke held Slight for a drawn heat. The last race going into the interval, and Swanson goes round E.Morton & L.Morton to join his partner Greszla out in front, leaving the scores equal at half time, on 45 apiece.
Sheffield reclaimed the lead first heat back out, from the Holland-Burke pairing over the McPherson-Cairney pairing, before Edinburgh once again drew level as the Slight-Hewitson pairing took a 7-3 over the N.Morton-L.Morton pairing, despite the Sheffield youngster’s best efforts. McMillan won from Greszla & McPherson as Sullivan took up the rear in heat thirteen, before Slight inexplicably fell chasing ahead of Burke in heat fourteen, allowing Haines to take third behind Cairney to put the Rockets two in front. The Falcons headed into the lead with a Swanson-Hewitson 7-3 in heat sixteen from the N.Morton-L.Morton pairing, and so leaving it all to play for with three heats to go.
Heat seventeen, and the turning point in the match. Coming out the first bend and McMillan has let his partner Holland round Greszla for what looks to be a 7-3, until the race is abruptly stopped & McMillan is excluded for slowing the race down going around the first bend. In the re-run, Greszla lead from Holland & Lee, until the Sheffield rider dives up the Pole’s inside, looks through, and then both clash & fall. Lee flies past to take the win, but Holland doesn’t rise quick enough, giving the home side a 7-2 and a lead of seven points, the largest held by either side throughout the match. N.Morton wins from Swanson & Lawrence off the tapes, but E.Morton can only pick up fourth to effectively give the home side victory. Hewitson completed his maximum in the final heat from Burke, while McPherson beats Sullivan, to give the Falcons the league points by 94 to 85.
Mikey Hewitson was unbeaten for Edinburgh and led his side strongly, while Kamil Greszla & Neil Swanson both lost only to Bobby McMillan & Niall Morton, Jake Slight & Chris Lee each taking two good wins. For the Rockets, Jason Burke & Bobby McMillan lost only to Mikey Hewitson, while Niall Morton provided strong support & Kyle Holland pulled off some impressive passes throughout. However, the Falcons just had the strength in depth to take the points in the end, as these two sides fight it out with Hull for second place in the league.
Lee Lawrence 9+1 (5), Chris Lee 13 (5), Mikey Hewitson 17+3 (5), Jake Slight 10 (4), Kamil Greszla 16+2 (5), Neil McPherson 11+1 (5), Neil Swanson 13+1 (4), Callum Cairney 5 (3)
Bobby McMillan 14+1 (5), Ellie Sullivan 10 (4), Ed Morton 7 (5), Kyle Holland 13+1 (5), Sam Haines 3 (2), Niall Morton 14+1 (5), Luke Morton 9 (5), Jason Burke 15+3 (5)
Referee: Ewan Tulloch
A win here would all but guarantee the Rockets the Northern Division Two title, while a win for the home side would most likely force a run-off at the end of the season between these two sides, meaning an exciting match was in prospect. But despite two first race 7-3s, Edinburgh seized the match with a 6-4 in heat four & then four 7-3s in quick succession to end Sheffield’s hopes of winning the title here. By the end of the match, Edinburgh had rocked up seven maximum heat advantages, Sheffield struggling to hold back the flow, as the home side took a comfortable 89 to 60 victory. To be fair to the Rockets, they were missing several key riders in this side, with Niall Morton the only rider to take any heat wins, but the Falcons rode very strongly, with Callum Cairney, Neil Swanson, Ewan Kennedy & Gavin Kennedy dropping their only points to Niall Morton. This match was a good prelude to now what looks very likely to be a run-off between these two sides at a neutral location at the end of the season, a match which both clubs are looking very much forward to.
Neil Swanson 9+2 (3), Ewan Kennedy 12+1 (4), Mark Lee 10+3 (4), Gavin Kennedy 15 (4), Douglas Morgan 12 (4), Callum Slight 10+2 (4), Markin Czarkowski 11+1 (4), Callum Cairney 10+1 (3)
Niamh Morton 6 (5), Niall Morton 18 (5), Sam Haines 9 (5), Luke Morton 8+2 (5), Ed Morton 9 (5), Ellie Sullivan 10+2 (5)
Referee: Ewan Tulloch
Edinburgh beat Sheffield 47 to 23 in the Northern Division Three fixture