MATCH REPORT: Last heat decider at the Graves

Sheffield 87 – 89 Horspath, Elite League, 6th April 2014

Horspath arrived at the Graves looking to reclaim the title they lost season, and to do so, they handed debuts to new signings Marcin Paradinski, Bartosz Grabowski, Marcin Kolata and Daniel Harper, which coupled with former world champion Lukas Nowacki, former British champion Mark Boaler, British finalist Zac Payne and former British finalist Lewis Osborne made it a tough task for the Stars. The home side handed debuts to Gavin Parr and Myke Grimes, in a side featuring former European champion Damien Zareba, Polish internationals Pawel Idzioreck and Radek Handke, former British champion Andy Angell, Young GB international Jake Read and Young Scotland international Kyle Holland, as they tried to repeat their home victory over the Hammers from last season.

And that looked on the cards in the very first heat as the Stars claimed a 6-3 win after Nowacki was excluded at the tapes, Angell winning from Kolata in the restart. But Horspath hit back with two heat advantages, first the Grabowski-Osborne pairing with a 6-4 over the Handke-Idzioreck pairing, before the Boaler-Paradinski pairing achieved a 7-3 over the Zareba-Holland pairing. Sheffield hit back with a 6-4 of their own, Angell taking his second win from Kolata as Read sped away from Harper, to put the away side just one up after four races.

The Hammers extended that to 5 with another maximum heat advantage, this time for the Payne-Nowacki pairing from the Parr-Grimes pairing, before a drawn heat followed in heat six as Zareba won from the Grabowski-Osborne pairing. But the match exploded in heat six, as first Boaler was excluded as he cut across Angell, before Paradinski was thrown wide an off by an Angell pass to let Parr through, the home side levelling the scores. They then claimed a two point lead as Idzioreck won from Nowacki and Handke beat Payne, although that was switched to the away side when the Kolata-Grabowski pairing achieved a 7-3 over the Grimes-Read pairing, leaving the scores at the interval Sheffield 43, Horspath 45.

However Horspath received another exclusion straight back out as Osborne forced Zareba off the track, Grimes winning in the re-run while Zareba kept Payne at bay to put the Stars 3 up. Heat eleven looked like it would never be a drawn heat as Boaler passed Idzioreck but was fell as he was passed back for third place, while Handke fell as he went for a last corner pass on Paradinski, but kept third place safe. The deficit was reduced to one when Angell, in a safe 5-5 position, flew up the inside of his team partner Parr on the last bend, attempting to pass Osborne, but was followed through by Grabowski to give the Hammers a 6-4.

Horspath returned into the lead as the Nowacki-Kolata pairing achieved a maximum heat advantage from the tapes over the Zareba-Grimes pairing, but then that they looked like losing it again as Payne fell attempting to pass Handke for the win, Boaler keeping Read at bay for a Sheffield 6-4. Paradinski won after falling first time out in heat fifteen, but Idzioreck & Grimes kept Kolata in fourth for only the third drawn heat of the match.

But the home side retook the lead in dramatic style in heat sixteen. Read won off the tapes from Osborne, but behind, Parr was blocking Payne with every pass he attempted, until the young Horspath rider went for a last bend dive on the Star, but was only able to catch Parr’s bike, throwing him off his own machine as the home rider crossed the line with Payne’s bike hanging onto his own. However, Payne was duly excluded for failing to cross the line in contact with his machine, putting Sheffield two up with just two heats remaining.

Handke made sure he won off the tapes from the Paradinski-Grabowski pairing in heat seventeen to set the stage for the final heat. Horspath knew they needed 6-4 to draw the match, and a 7-3 to win it, while Sheffield knew a 5-5 off their inside gates would be enough for victory. Idzioreck off gate one, Boaler two, Zareba three, Nowacki four. Straight off the tapes, and Boaler pins Idzioreck as Nowacki flies round the outside. Zareba gives chase to the Hammers pairing, but to no avail, and Horspath have the win.

For Sheffield, Andy Angell and Radek Handke both showed the fine form that saw them finish first and third respectively in the Dash Trophies, while Pawel Idzioreckand Gavin Parr will both feel they deserved more points. For Horspath, Marcin Paradinski was a strong force, Bartosz Grabowski showed just why he is Junior World Champion with his breathtaking acceleration and Lukasz Nowacki rode superbly, losing only to Pawel Idzioreck after his first race tapes exclusion. And in the end, the Hammers side was just about too strong for the Stars, but both sides provided an incredibly entertaining match that was close right to the end

Sheffield 87
Andy Angell 16 (5), Radek Handke 15+1 (5), Damien Zareba 13+1 (5), Pawel Idzioreck 12 (5), Gavin Parr 10+1 (5), Myke Grimes 10+1 (5), Jake Read 10 (5), Kyle Holland 1 (1), Niall Morton DNR
Horspath 89
Marcin Paradinski 16+1 (5), Bartosz Grabowski 14+2 (5), Lukas Nowacki 14+1 (5), Marcin Kolata 14+1 (5), Mark Boaler 11+1 (5), Lewis Osborne 11+1 (5), Zac Payne 8 (5), Daniel Harper 1 (1), Jordan Richardson DNR, George Horsley DNR
Referee: Mike Hack

The Division Two match was expected to be as close an affair, which was shown to be the case, the only race in the first five not being a drawn heat when, in heat two, the Brown-Morton pairing achieved a 7-2 over Horsley after his partner Harper was excluded for excessive force. A 7-3 in heat six put Sheffield 9 up, a 6-4 for the Hammers reducing that 7 in heat eight, before a 6-4 and a 7-3 in the last two heats gave Sheffield victory 85 to 63 without penalty points, 99 to 68 with them.

Vicky Brown showed how her exceptional gating is coming on, while Zach Smurthwaite lost only to Zac Payne in heat four and Richard Hudson lost only to Payne and Daniel Harper. For Horspath, Zac Payne was unbeaten, while Daniel Harper rode well after that first race exclusion and Jordan Richardson always kept the pressure on.

Sheffield 99
Vicky Brown 14 (4), Richard Hudson 13+1 (4), Kyle Holland 12+3 (5), Zach Smurthwaite 10+1 (3), Niall Morton 9+3 (4), Mick Knowles 8+1 (3), Matt Parrott 5 (3) plus 14 penalty points
Horspath 68
Zac Payne 16 (4), Jordan Richardson 12 (5), George Horsley 11+1 (5), Daniel Harper 8 (4), Lee White 7+1 (4), Livvy Horsley 4 (4) plus 5 penalty points
Referee: Dave Shoat