Friday May 17, 2019
LEICESTER’S seven-match winning run came to an end as they were edged out 45-44 at Edinburgh on Friday.

But the Watling JCB Lions still took another league point to add to their Championship total, and at another of the trickier away venues, courtesy of a terrific finish at Armadale.

They trailed by nine points with three races to go, but finished with two 4-2s and a 5-1 – and but for several incidents throughout the night, they could even have snatched victory.

Skipper Scott Nicholls was sensational once again, dropping his only points in six rides when he was pipped by Cameron Heeps off the last bend in Heat 13 when set for a 5-1 with Richie Worrall.

And Worrall’s only blip in five outings came when he touched the tapes in Heat 6, with the Lions conceding a 5-1 as a result.

That saw Nicholls immediately introduced into Heat 7 as a tactical substitute, which he won, although Ryan Douglas – who was replaced in that race – went on to enjoy arguably his best Armadale display in his remaining rides.

But his regular colleague Josh Bates endured a disastrous night with mechanical trouble and a fall in Heat 12, whilst Connor Mountain also came to grief whilst holding third place in Heat 8.

With the home side 42-35 up, Douglas took a key win in Heat 14 and a hard-working Ellis Perks was re-passed by Joel Andersson coming off the fourth bend, which virtually ensured victory overall for the home side.

But there would still be reward for the Lions as Worrall and Nicholls made no mistake against Heeps and Ricky Wells in Heat 15.

Manager Stewart Dickson said: “When we were ten down after Heat 10 I was saying to myself that a point would be good, and we’ll certainly take it.

“We threw a couple of silly points away with impatience at the tapes and falls when in scoring positions, and in the end we came so close so there’s also a slight tinge of what could have been.

“Our top boys were good when it mattered in the big races again, and we’ve got to remember that this is a points-building exercise up to the play-offs.

“Josh had what can only be described as the night from hell, it was a choice between him and Ryan for who to take out of Heat 7, and we chose Duggie because although he came second in Heat 3 he looked anything but comfortable – but he then went on to conquer Armadale, because I think his highest-ever score here is three points, and we got him going.

“It’s not too shabby overall because that puts us on ‘plus four’ (away points) from two notoriously difficult away tracks, and it’s all about building as many plusses as we can, as well as keeping the back door shut at home.

“Maybe it’s a good thing we’re disappointed not to get a win at Armadale, because I don’t think many teams will say that.”

Lions are back up north on Sunday as they head to Newcastle in more Championship action (6.30pm) – but before that the Lion Cubs host Belle Vue at the Paul Chapman & Sons Arena on Saturday (7.30pm).

EDINBURGH 45: Josh Pickering 9+1, Cameron Heeps 9, Justin Sedgmen 8+1, Ricky Wells 7+1, Joel Andersson 6+1, Luke Ruddick 4, William Lawson 2+1
LEICESTER 44: Scott Nicholls 15+1, Richie Worrall 13, Ryan Douglas 7, Ellis Perks 7, Josh Bates 1, Danny Phillips 1, Connor Mountain 0
Championship points: Edinburgh 3 Leicester 1

Picture: RON MacNEILL

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