MATCH REPORT: Hellingly win 1st away match of their season

The 1st away match this season for the Lions was a trip to Canning Town East London and proved to display a much-improved track performance. No less than 6 of the 7 riders on show today had double-figure scores (inc.bonus points) producing big smiles all around. It was a very comprehensive performance with riding for each other displaying the very epitome of team racing. It has to be said that the opposition was not the strongest that the Lions will face during the coming season, albeit only a challenge match, but the commitment to racing and fitness levels were far above the previous week.
The match kicked off with captain George Morley winning the coin toss and elected to go off gates 1-3 in ht1. Steven Archer (gt1) had a tapes to flag win in the first race, going on to register two more race wins and two 2nd places only beaten by an impressive performance by the not so young Les Stevens of East London. Harry Sexton tailed off a bit at the back, but to be fair the Londoner’s pairing of Richard Austin and Michael Woodley were not hanging about. With the first two races shared, and a 6-4 in ht 3 Hellingly were 2pts up at 14 to 16, the meeting for sure was not going to be a walk in the park with all the race winners coming from gate 1. All changed in ht4 with the Londoner’s Nick Gunkel on the favoured gate as expected led the race for 3 laps. With the revamped Harry Sexton doing a great job of keeping Sid Stanley at bay it was down to Steven Archer to do the donkey work and pressure Nick into making a mistake. After racing at full speed the mistake came at the final bend lap 3 when Nick looked the wrong way leaving a gap to which Steven Archer took full advantage off and drove inside him. This resulted in both riders going wide on the exit of the bend and with Gunkel now out on the loose surface, he fell. Sexton was close enough to take advantage and went on to follow Steven home for a deserved 7-3 heat win. Heat 5 and it was “Lions” captain Morley’s turn to turn on the style with an emphatic win over Richard Austin and Jim Cox easily accounting for Michael Woodley to grab an unexpected 6-4 advantage. Races 6&7 were shared to bring the scorecard to 31 – 39 in favour of the Lions. Ht 8 brought out the pairing of George and Jim off gates 2-4 for Hellingly with the very lively Les Stevens of East London off gt1. Now with the rest of the Lions appearing to step up a notch, Jim was not about to be overshadowed. Tapes up and Jim was gone like the proverbial missile from gt4 coming out of the first bend well in the lead. George took care of Kevin Smith to register another 6-4 advantage to Hellingly. Heat 9 brought together the father and son pairing of Eddie and Harry Ridley for Hellingly. Now with Harry being only 9yrs old and having made adjustments to his bike (gear change), he found the going a little tough. On the other hand, it was Eddie Ridley’s turn to shine. Nick Gunkel (EL) led from the start with Eddie (Hel) stuck on his shoulder for 3 laps. On the exit of the final bend lap3, Eddie turned back the years by performing a classic cut back to pass Nick on the inside cleanly to go on and win the race. With the weather behaving itself being pleasantly warm, it was interval time with the scores now 40 – 50 in favour of Hellingly. The second half began with a surprisingly rejuvenated East London team as they promptly provided the race winners for the next 3 hts with Les Stevens, Nick Gunkel and Richard Austin doing the job. Back to business as it were in ht13 when team spirit kicked in yet again with captain George Morley paired with Steven Archer romped away to only the second maximum 7-3 score in the meeting to extend their lead 58pts to 72pts. A 5-5 drawn heat followed along with the only maximum score of 7-3 to East London courtesy of a very lenient referee!!!! That brought the score to 80 -70 to the Lions with the nominated to go. With the final result of the match not going to change from a Hellingly victory both teams agreed to give the younger lads an extra ride. East London had Elliot Austin and RJ Burn starting from the tapes with Hellingly’s Harry Ridley starting on the halfway marker and Harry Sexton back on the exit of bend 1. This race was over 3 laps and Harry Sexton worked hard to overhaul the Londoner’s pair to win right on the line. Harry Ridley, likewise raced hard but just failed to catch RJ Burn on the line, so the race result was a 6-4 to the Lions and final match score East London 74 Hellingly 86. Overall, it was an entertaining match rode in a sporting manner by both teams. As for the Lions, it was a vast improvement from all the riders compared to the previous meeting and the level of team spirit showed through in the end.

East London 74
Les Stevens 18 (5r) – Richard Austin 17+1 (5r) – Nick Gunkel 14 (5r) – Michael Woodley 9+1 (5r) – Sid Stanley 7+1 (5r) – Kevin Smith 5 (5r) – RJ Burn 3 (1r) – Elliot Austin 1(1r)

Hellingly 86
Steven Archer 18 (5r) – Harry Sexton 15+3 (6r) – Eddie Ridley 15+2 (5r) – George Morley 14+2 (5r) – Jim Cox 11+1 (4r) – Jamie Morley 9+1 (4r) – Harry Ridley 4 (3r) – Neil Hollebon DNR.