MATCH REPORT: Three victories for Sheffield

Sheffield 109 – 70 Northumbria, Northern League 1, 23rd March 2014

Northumbria were optimistic after losing by just two points against Edinburgh last time out, while Sheffield were hoping to build on their victory at Bury a week ago. Daniel Wharrier and Terry Kirkup came into the away side for Jack and Simon Watson, while for the home side, Aiden Owen made his first appearance of the season in place of last week’s super reserve Jason Burke.

The Vikings expected a tough match against the Rockets, but Sheffield’s start went even beyond that. Four 6-4s in the first four heats from the Handke-Owen, Zareba-Holland, Hudson-Parrott and Handke-Morton pairings gave the home side a commanding lead, a run ending with a 5-5 when Owen was passed by Mulvey and fell in heat five after putting Smurthwaite into the lead. But the Rockets hit back with a vengeance, Zareba and Holland taking a 7-3 win and then the Handke-Owen, Hudson-Parrott and Zareba-Morton pairings claiming 6-4s to give Sheffield an 18-point at the interval, with Northumbria yet to take a first place.

A 7-3 straight after the interval from Smurthwaite and Holland continued Sheffield’s fine form, before Gavin Parr won in heat eleven to be the Vikings’ first heat winner of the match, ahead of Hudson and Parrott for a drawn heat. But Sheffield kept up, claiming a 6-3 from the Handke-Smurthwaite pairing after Wharrier’s pedal snapped, and a 7-3 from the Holland-Zareba pairing a heat later. Gavin Parr got his second win from Morton and Parrott, before a 7-3 from the Smurthwaite-Hudson pairing extended Sheffield’s lead to 33 with three heats remaining.

Zareba finished off his maximum in heat sixteen, but the action was all behind as Morton passed first Latimer and then Wharrier on the line. Keith split the Handke-Parrott pairing, Handke finishing off his third maximum in three matches, in heat seventeen, to just leave Gavin Parr to take the win from Holland and Hudson in the final heat, the match finishing Sheffield 109, Northumbria 70.

Radek Handke and Damien Zareba were unbeaten once again for Sheffield, while Richard Hudson and Kyle Holland lost only to Gavin Parr, with Zac Smurthwaite losing only to Jason Keith from the reserve birth. For Northumbria, Gavin Parr was their only heat winner, coming second behind Zareba and Handke to drop his only points, but lacked any strong support, although they might have done better were it not for an injury to Michael Parr in his third outing that put him out for the rest of the match, Mark Mulvey suffering an injury that allowed him to keep racing in the same race. However, Sheffield dominated right from the off to claim a second first division victory in a row.

Sheffield 109

Radek Handke 20 (5), Damien Zareba 18+2 (5), Kyle Holland 16+1 (5), Richard Hudson 15+3 (5), Zac Smurthwaite 14 (4), Matt Parrott 12 (5), Niall Morton 9+2 (4), Aiden Owen 5 (3)

Northumbria 70

Gavin Parr 18 (5), Jason Keith 14 (5), Mark Mulvey 8 (5), Terry Kirkup 7+1 (4), Michael Parr 6 (2), Daniel Wharrier 6 (5), Daniel Redshaw 6 (5), Scott Latimer 5 (5)

Referee: Mick Knowles

The Rockets claimed their third second division win in a row, although it was their closest match match yet. The home side got off to a good start, but then a 7-3 for the Vikings in heat two after Luke Morton fell when passed by Latimer put the away side two up. A 6-4 and then a 7-3 in heat four and five put the Rockets clear by four, until what looked like a 7-3 for Sheffield in heat seven was switched around as Latimer came in between Brown and Davies to let through his partner Wharrier to level the scores, meaning the scores at the interval were 40-all.

However, the Rockets had learnt their lesson from the first half, riding tactically in the second half to not lose a heat and claim two 6-4s in heat ten and heat thirteen, both led by Mick Knowles, giving Sheffield the victory by 4, 77 to 73.

For the Rockets, Mick Knowles only lost once to Terry Kirkup from his four rides, and Luke Morton only lost to Dan Redshaw after his first race fall, with Niall Morton unbeaten in his three rides from the reserve berth and James Bunting showing the experience he is gaining after a solid performance. For the Vikings, Scott Latimer grew to the track after having ten races across the day, pulling some good passes, while Terry Kirkup lost only to Niall Morton in his three rides. And although Sheffield eventually took the league points, they will need to be stronger next week if they are to rise to the task of the mighty Edinburgh Falcons combination side.

Sheffield 77

Luke Morton 16 (5), Mick Knowles 15 (4), Niall Morton 11+1 (3), James Bunting 10+1 (4), Vicky Brown 10 (4), Paul Fisher 8+1 (4), Rebecca Davies 5+1 (4), Sam Haines 2 (2)

Northumbria 73

Scott Latimer 15+2 (5), Daniel Redshaw 15+1 (5), Daniel Wharrier 12+1 (5), Terry Kirkup 10 (3), Andy Knowles 9+2 (4), Neil McGee 9 (3), Jim Graham 6+1 (5)

Referee: Dave Shoat

No under-13s arrived from Northumbria, allowing the nine riders of Sheffield to get some practice in for the first BYJL in two weeks’ time. The match had to be temporarily abandoned halfway through after a torrent of huge hailstones began to fall, before the racing re-started five minutes later when the weather had completely cleared and the track was a mud bath. James Bunting was unbeaten for the third time this season, meaning he has yet to lose in a single Division Three match since the competition was introduced at the beginning of last season. Niamh Morton showed her recent improvement in form, only losing to Bunting and Turney, while Morgan Turner’s quick starts caught the eye.

Sheffield 108

James Bunting 16, Niamh Morton 14, Sam Haines 13, Morgan Turner 13, Sam Turney 13, Jack Brownell 12

Northumbria 0

Referee: Dave Shoat