MATCH REPORT: Nail biting finish at Redbraes Park
With Stockport having concerns over transport during the previous few days, it was a relief to see an 8 man team line up for the NL Division One match against Edinburgh at a sun drenched Redbraes Park.
Once the match started, it was clear that Stockport’s pre-season training had paid dividends as several of the home side looked to be short of early season fitness.
A fall to Edinburgh’s Jake Slight whilst leading heat one saw Stockport’s Ben Higham and Louis Wright pick up a 6-4 for an early, narrow lead.
Two shared heats followed, with wins to Terry Norman for Stockport and Mikey Hewitson for Edinburgh, before a second 6-4 to the Higham/Wright pairing gave Stockport a four point lead after four races.
Three 5-5s followed with Hewitson scoring his second win for the home side whilst Jake Read and Ben Higham won heats six and seven for the visitors.
Stockport extended their lead to eight points in heat eight with a fine 7-3 from the Terry Norman and Michael Preston pairing over Jason Burke and Jake Slight.
Stockport maintained their lead with three more shared heats before Read and Devon Campbell delivered what should have been a killer blow in heat twelve with a 7-3 over Hewitson and Czarkowski to give Stockport a twelve point lead over the defending league champions.
With no real pressure on them Stockport should have cruised to a comfortable victory but two unfortunate exclusions, firstly to Preston and then Higham, in the space of three races put Edinburgh right back in the match, scoring a 6-3 and a 7-2 to pull back to four down with two heats to go.
A 6-4 to Slight and Burke in the penultimate heat saw Stockport’s lead whittled down to just two points with only heat eighteen remaining.
To the relief of his team mates, Read kept his nerve to win the final race and secure victory for Stockport with a final score of 88-90, inflicting Edinburgh’s first home defeat in three years, although he was reprimanded by his manager for not keeping both hands on his bars as he approached the finish line.
Stockport’s three heat leaders were all on good form with Terry Norman looking more like his old self after a disappointing (for him) showing in the home match against Astley the previous week.
They were ably backed up by the young trio of 14 year old second strings with all three helping to secure heat advantages for their team during the match.
For Edinburgh Newsome and Hewitson were the pick of the bunch but disappointing scores from Grezla and Czarkowski probably cost them the match.
After a short break, top scorer Read lined up on gate two against holder Hewitson for the NL match race. Read held his gate and despite Hewitson’s strong first lap challenge went on to win comfortably to become the new holder.
With their first two matches both resulting in two point wins, it’s looking as though it could be an exciting season as Stockport bid to reclaim the NL title.
J. Slight 15, J. Burke 13+3, C. Newsome 19+1, K. Grezla 9+2, M. Hewitson 20+1, M. Czarkowski 3, L. Lawrence 3, N. McPherson 4+1, E. Kennedy 2.
B. Higham 18+1, L. Wright 11, T. Norman 21, M. Preston 8+2, J. Read 21+1, D. Campbell 11+2, L. McCabe and C. Simpson DNR.
Referee – G. Kennedy
For the second week running, Stockport overcame the twenty penalty points awarded against them for fielding an ineligible rider in Division 2, to win an even closer match than that witnessed just a few minutes earlier in the afternoon.
After a shared first race, Stockport began pulling back the deficit with a Michael Preston / Louis Wright 7-3 over Lewis Foxley in heat two.
Wright and Lance McCabe pulled another two back for Stockport in heat four before back to back 7-3s in heats five and six from Michael Preston / Ben Higham and then Connor Simpson / Devon Campbell followed by a Wright / Preston 6-4 over Ewan Kennedy in heat seven which reduced the deficit to four points.
Stockport drew level in heat nine as a Wright / Campbell 7-3 brought the adjusted score to 55-55. Two shared heats followed before Edinburgh regained the lead scoring a 5-4 after the Stockport manager gambled on leaving Simpson out of heat twelve.
The hoped for 7-3 in heat thirteen didn’t materialise but the 6-4 from Preston and Wright was enough for Stockport to regain a one point advantage.
Two shared heats with wins going to Campbell and Higham to finish off the match meant victory to Stockport by the narrowest of margins with the adjusted final score being 84-85.
Although Lee Lawrence, Dode Mitchell and their young Edinburgh team mates failed to provide a race winner the match stayed entertaining to the end with Lee, Ewan Kennedy and Lewis Foxley keeping the Stockport team on their toes throughout.
They were somewhat unfortunate that Connor Simpson made his return to racing for Stockport in this match, otherwise the win would almost certainly have gone to the home team.
For Stockport, Preston and Wright only dropped a point each in one of their five races whilst Campbell was unbeaten by an opponent.
EDINBURGH 64+20pp = 84
L. Lawrence 12+1, J. Foxley 5+1, D. Mitchell 11+1, E. Kennedy 12+2, S. Mitchell 7+1, L. Foxley 13+1, C. Leslie 4+1
B. Higham 19+1, L. McCabe 6, M. Preston 17+1, L. Wright 18, C. Simpson 7, D. Campbell 18+2