Monday July 02, 2018
NEW signing Ricky Wells made a dream debut as Leicester edged a local derby thriller 46-44 against Wolverhampton at the Paul Chapman & Sons Arena.

Wells won four of his five races against his former club, including a decisive Heat 15 where skipper Hans Andersen held on for third place to see the Watling JCB Lions to victory.

That came after a dramatic momentum switch in which the outstanding Sam Masters had inspired Wolves to fight back from 32-22 down after nine races to level-pegging at 42-42 with one heat to go.

But after six straight wins, and looking the fastest rider all night, Masters crucially missed the start in Heat 15 and was pegged at the back by Andersen, whilst Wells raced clear of Rory Schlein for the advantage the Lions required.

Wells had set the tone with a strong first bend in Heat 1 whilst Kenneth Bjerre came through the traffic for a 5-1 – a result matched by reserves James Sarjeant and Todd Kurtz in the next.

Lions were grateful for that start as Masters and Schlein quickly posed a threat for the visitors, and a second win for Wells in Heat 6 was superbly judged as he passed first Schlein before switching inside Cameron Heeps for victory.

Wells and Kurtz re-built Leicester’s lead to eight points after a mini Wolves fightback with a 5-1 in Heat 8, and they looked set for successive maximums only for Schlein to squeeze inside Krystian Pieszczek in the next.

A ten-point lead still looked comfortable but after a Wolves 4-2 in Heat 11 when Jacob Thorssell took his only win, the picture changed considerably when Heeps produced a shock ride to partner Masters to a 5-1 in Heat 12 over an otherwise impressive Charles Wright.

Andersen and Bjerre gated in Heat 13 but Schlein rode a storming first lap to hit the front whilst Thorssell retrieved third place – and Masters’ forceful opening to Heat 14 put Pieszczek out of contention, with another 4-2 levelling the scores.

But there was a big finish for the Lions as Wells trapped superbly to win the decider, whilst Andersen put his experience to good use for third place as Masters couldn’t quite turn six perfect rides into seven.

Lions boss Simon Stead said: “We were well up at one stage, but you always know in speedway things can turn around in a couple of heats, and they came back strongly.

“But we fought back well with a really strong performance in Heat 15 from Ricky and Hansi to secure us the points.

“I don’t think it could have gone much better for Ricky on his debut, but I’ve got to mention Charles as well, because his performance will go a little under the radar with how well Ricky has done.

“Between them they’ve scored 20 paid 22 which is a game-changer for us, and it’s been the difference between winning and losing tonight.”

Lions now head to King’s Lynn on Wednesday before hosting Poole in another high-profile clash at home next Monday.

LEICESTER 46: Ricky Wells 13+1, Hans Andersen 9, Charles Wright 7+1, Todd Kurtz 6+2, Kenneth Bjerre 4+1, Krystian Pieszczek 4+1, James Sarjeant 3.
WOLVERHAMPTON 44: Sam Masters 18, Rory Schlein 11+1, Cameron Heeps 6+1, Jacob Thorssell 5, Nathan Greaves 4, Ashley Morris 0, Kyle Howarth r/r.

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