MATCH REPORT: Lions come close against top of the table Ipswich
Team moral was at an all time high at Hellingly after snatching two league points from Great Blakenham 7 days ago, so the arrival of the Ipswich Eagles held no fears for the Lions at the Lower Dicker Rec.
Sadly, it was not to be, with no one willing to officiate with the whistle it was home legend Martyn Hollebon who made the massive sporting gesture of withdrawing from the meeting and take on the job as referee.
Without a doubt, this decision was to cost the Lions victory on the day. The meeting began with Ipswich winning the coin toss and surprisingly chose 2-4 in heat 1. Neil Hollebon cruised to victory from gate 1, but was only a drawn heat as Ipswich pairing of Richard Fellgett and Ben Clarke easily kept Jim Cox at bay on the dry and difficult surface.
Heat 2, and Jesse Moore executed a superb pass on Matt Hill at the pits bend first time around, only to become a victim of the dry surface and falling (cover photo by Michelle Rideout) gifting Ipswich a 6-4 heat win.
In heat 6, with the score 23-27 to Ipswich, it was Dan Knights’ turn to succumb to the conditions as he fell exiting the first bend second lap, only to take too many steps running when remounting and earning an exclusion.
Heat 7 brought out Neil Hollebon, but this time elected to go off gate 3. This race was cycle speedway at its very best as Neil showed just why he is the master of the Dicker circuit.
After trail Ashley Hill out the gate, he chased him down for two laps forcing him to enter the first bend lap 3 far quicker than conditions allowed only to perform the perfect cut back and pass Ashley going on to win the race to the cheers of the crowd.
The score card now read that the lions were in the lead for the first time at 35 – 34. Happiness was short lived however, as Ipswich produced two 7-3 heat wins, one either side of the interval, to gain a 7 point advantage which the Lions found impossible to get back.
Ipswich suffered two more exclusions, Matt Hill in ht 12 for running and Ethan Mitchell in heat 14 for both wheels over the white line. The Eagles had more strength in depth showing why they are the current champions maintaining a 5 point advantage to heat 18, winning 91 to 86.
In fairness to the Lions, they all gave 100% effort but the key factor had to be Martyn’s sporting gesture. For Hellingly it was not a case of the one that got away, but was given?
Neil Hollebon 17+1, Jim Cox 11+1, Jesse Moore 14+1, George Morley 14, Ed Ridley 11+2, Steven Archer 11+1, Ethan Page 5, Jamie Morley 2.
Ben Clarke11+1, Richard Fellgett 19, Dan Knights 15+1, Matt Hill 11, Charlie Johnson 9, Ashley Hill 13+1, Fraser Harris 11+2, Ethan Mitchell 2.
As the score chart reflects, it was yet another close encounter for the younger brigade. In fact eleven of the sixteen races were 5-5 drawn heats with the bone dry surface proving difficult for both teams.
For Hellingly, Martyn Hollebon rode as others were suffering with the heat, but had to endure a 15 point penalty. He was well supported by Steven Archer and George Morley who has improved no-end since the start of the season.
For Ipswich it was a compact team effort, with Gemma Hill and Charlie Jane Herbert showing her skills in team riding in 3 different races. Not a classic match as in the past weeks, but conditions did not allow for fast racing.
Martyn Hollebon 19, Harry Sexton 10+1, Steven Archer 17+1,Jamie Morley 5+1, George Morley 20, Ethan Page 6, Harry Ridley 2.
Ipswich (77+15) 92
Harvey Young 6, Charlie Johnson 9+1, Gemma Hill 12, Ethan Mitchell 5+2, Kristian Mitchell 10+1, Charlie J Herbert 10+3, Ben Clarke 11, Luke Dunningham 6, Fraser Harris 8+2