MATCH REPORT: Hammers less than convincing in opening match

Horspath Hammers started their defence of the Elite League title in less than convincing style defeating Poole 89-88 at The Village, going into the last heat 5 up Hammers Boaler and Nowacki rolled off the grids to ensure a slenderest of margin victory, a Horspath trademark of many years.

However it was a much close affair than it really should have been, as the home side continued to drop points, even allowing for the immaculate Greg Gluchowski and Gavin Wheeler with excellent support from ex Hammer Steve Harris.

Horspath took the lead in heat 2 with a 7-3, only for an exclusion to Andy Johnson leading to a re-run 7-2 against in heat 4 via Morgan and Hook. Heat 6 it was Payne and Boaler getting a 6-4 and a one point lead again for Hammers. Heat 9 and another disaster as Zac Payne was excluded after putting Dean Hook over the inside line, again it resulted in a Poole 7-2 through Hook and Harris and a four point Comets lead at the half.

A vintage bit of Danny Harper joining Boaler for a crucial 7-3 squared the tie opening heat 2nd half. Again an exclusion for Hammers’ Chris Timms and a resultant Harris/Smith 6-3 put Poole in the ascendancy in heat 12. Boaler and Payne came through for a big 7-3 in the next and put the Hammers back into the lead, two important 6-4’s in heats 15 and 16 from Nowacki/Harper and Paradzinski/Payne got Hammers 5 up, a drawn penultimate heat robbed the large crowd of a blockbuster last heat as the Horspath duo just did the requirement off the insides whilst Gluchowski scorched to a maximum.

Hammers looked ring rusty, generally, Paradzinski did what he could Osborne an anchor Payne showed flashes as did Boaler, Timms and Nowacki but the gamechanger without doubt was Danny Harper. For Poole, other than Gluchowski, Gav Wheeler dropped one race, heat 13. Steve Harris used all his Village trackcraft but they just missed out with their back up squad. A word for referee Terry Ashford who had an excellent meeting refereeing with commonsense and no fussiness.

Horspath 89
Chris Timms 10+1, Marcin Paradzinski 15+1, Lukasz Nowacki 15, Lewis Osborne 11+5, Zac Payne 11+2, Mark Boaler 14+2, Andy Johnson 5, Danny Harper 8+1.

Poole 88
Aaron Morgan 9, Gavin Wheeler 16+1, Steve Harris 15+1, Arron Smith 10, Greg Gluchowski 20, Kyle Yeatman 2, Dean Hook 12+1, Hayden Chant 4.

Poole won the Combination comfortably, with Horspath tracking four youngsters in their team. Poole had much too much, running out 60-92 victors.

Horspath 60
Jim Collier 6, Josh Ramshaw 7, Will Jeffrey 12, Zac Payne 10+4, Owen Johnson 6, Andy Johnson 12, Nathan Loveridge 3

Poole 92
Colin Blundell 11+2, Will Bristowe 17+1, Hayden Chant 13, Pete Chant 10+2, Jay Briggs 11+3, Callum Albin 12.