MATCH REPORT: Stockport keep pressure on in title race

Northern League One leaders Stockport arrived at Cookson Park knowing they had not lost a first team match in Sheffield since 2004.

A win was vital if they were to stay in the race for this year’s Championship, particularly given the form of Bury and Edinburgh.

The visitors had a weakened squad that was without internationals Ben Higham or Dylan Radcliffe. Sheffield welcomed back Joe Twigg, who was now free from exams, but had Luke Morton stepping down to take on referee duties.

His place taken by Laura Watson, who was in impressive form at last week’s British Women’s League at Cookson.

Sheffield took a surprise lead with splendid 7-3 maximum from Vicky Brown/Kyle Holland over Terry Norman in heat 3. The Stars lead was short-lived however, with Mat Lush and Michael Preston scoring a 7-3 maximum in heat 5.

As the visitors who went into a two-point lead. Jake Read (twice), Jack Lush and Terry Norman won the next four races to see Stockport into the half time interval with a six-point lead by 48-42.

The Stars reduced the deficit to four points just after the interval when Kyle Holland /Laura Watson battled to a 6-4 win in heat 10. Two more drawn heats helped Stockport maintain that four-point lead.

Then in heats 13 and 14 the visitors put daylight between the teams as they scored back to back 7-3 maximums from Mat Lush/Jack Lush and Terry Norman/Michael Preston. Stockport now led by 12 points with just four races to go.

Adam Watson gained Sheffield’s third and final race win in heat 15, but Louis Wright and Devon Campbell did enough to keep the ever-pressing Laura Watson at the back.

VIDEO: Watson executes fine pass

With the deficit still being 12 points Sheffield claimed inside grids for heat 16. Jack Lush (the loan Stockport rider) was just too strong for Joe Twigg’s speedy attempt from grid one, as Sheffield’s final throw of the dice had failed.

Jake Read and Terry Norman won the final two races as Stockport sealed victory by 95-84.

Jack Lush and Jake Read both raced to 20-point maximum scores, while Terry Norman reeled off four race wins after his first race third place. Michael Preston also had a race win, while Louis Wright was impressive but got little reward for the hard graft he put in.

The Stars were well led by Adam Watson and Kyle Holland, who kept the visiting riders on their toes. Ed and Niall Morton were both instrumental in assisting their team partner get good placings.

Vicky Brown surprised the visitors with her speed from the starts. Joe Twigg and Rich Hudson both showed some ring rustiness, there last match being at Northumbria on 1st May, though Joe seemed to be returning to something like his early season form towards the end of the match.

Adam Watson 16, Kyle Holland 14+2, Niall Morton 14+1, Vicky Brown 12, Ed Morton 9+4, Joe Twigg 8+1, Rich Hudson 7+2, Laura Watson 4.

Jack Lush 20, Jake Read 20, Terry Norman 18, Michael Preston 12+1, Mat Lush 11+2, Devon Campbell 7+1, Louis Wright 7.

Stockport were forced to name three banned riders (Jack Lush, Mat Lush and Jake Read) for the League Two match, having to give Sheffield 57 penalty points.

This meaning the visitors had the near impossible task of winning the league points. Jack Lush and Michael Preston raced unbeaten by a Sheffield rider as the visitors scored eight maximum 7-3 heat wins as they made a valiant attempt to claw back the penalty point deficit.

Stockport won by 92-58 on the track, but Sheffield had the league points by 115-92 on the addition of the penalty points. Jake Read and Mat Lush sportingly raced with the Sheffield riders, particularly when a win was out of reach.

Louis Wright and Devon Campbell both had race wins as they continued to enjoy the Cookson raceway. Sheffield managed just two race winners, which came from Luke Morton and Joe Twigg.

The win that Joe got in heat 12 was the one that effectively ended Stockport’s chance of winning the match. Luke also picked up three important assists, teaming up with Laura Watson, Niamh Morton and Sam Haines for vital 5-5 drawn heats.

Luke Morton 12+3, Niamh Morton 10, Joe Twigg 10, Sam Haines 9+1, Ed Morton 7, Laura Watson 7, Vicky Brown 3, Jack Brownell DNR

Jack Lush 19+1, Michael Preston 18+2, Mat Lush 15+1, Jake Read 15+4, Louis Wright 13, Devon Campbell 12+2.

Stockport were unable to track any under 13’s so it was left to Jack Brownell to go through the formality of completing one lap for Sheffield to claim the League three match points with a 4-0 score line.