Saturday August 17, 2019
LEICESTER overcame title rivals Glasgow 46-44 in a pulsating Championship clash at the Paul Chapman & Sons Arena on Saturday.

The Watling JCB Lions went six points down in the early stages but roared back to take the honours, whilst a 5-1 for the visitors in the last race saw them leave with a league point.

Skipper Scott Nicholls, Ryan Douglas and hard-working reserve Connor Mountain were all in the major points – whilst Ellis Perks collected paid-eight from three rides, having missed Heat 6 when the Lions used a tactical substitute.

That came about due to a flying start from the Tigers, who in fact won each of the first six races.

They gained an advantage from Heat 2 when Connor Bailey won his opening ride on the circuit, and Michael Palm Toft headed up another 4-2 in the next after picking himself up from a clash with Douglas in the initial staging.

When Craig Cook and Mikkel B Andersen notched another 4-2 in Heat 5 – Andersen able to take a point after falling, due to Ty Proctor retiring from the race – the Lions were six down and required urgent action.

But their move to bring in Nicholls alongside guest Rory Schlein in Heat 6 was frustrated by Rasmus Jensen, who saw off both of the home side’s big guns, and the visitors were also content to share the next race behind Nicholls.

But the Lions’ comeback was launched by Perks and Mountain, who stormed to a 5-1 in Heat 8, and then Douglas became the first man to beat Jensen in Heat 9 as Mountain replaced Proctor to supply the match-levelling third place.

Schlein and Perks then completed the comeback with a 5-1 over Palm Toft in Heat 10 as the Lions hit the front for the first time, but the Tigers weren’t going away as they made the start in Heat 11 with Nicholls getting past Andersen to at least keep his side ahead.

With Palm Toft taking Heat 12 the Lions still led by just two points, and they faced a massive Heat 13 – but it went in their favour as the previously unbeaten Cook ran a last place behind Schlein, whilst Nicholls rode a stormer to keep ahead of Jensen up-front.

It gave the Lions a four-point lead once more but they still looked set for a nervous finale when new Glasgow signing Sam Jensen led Heat 14 until dramatically coming to grief on the last bend, allowing the hosts a 4-2 which clinched victory.

And the significance of that incident became even clearer in the last race when Cook recovered from Heat 13 to win, whilst Jensen produced a remarkable effort to pass both Douglas and Nicholls and confirm a deserved point for the visitors.

Nicholls said: “Tonight was a really tough meeting and fair play to Glasgow for grabbing a point at the end. They are a top team and I guess they deserved something from the meeting.

“The track rode really well and they were making better starts than us at the start of the meeting. On a personal note, I struggled for a set-up but got myself dialled in towards the end.

“This was a big win but it means nothing in terms of the play-offs. That’s when we need to all be firing as a team as there will be no easy matches if we are to lift the league title.

“Thanks to the fans for their awesome support again tonight.”

Lions head to Birmingham on Wednesday and then host Somerset next Saturday, as they close in on officially confirming their place in the play-offs.

LEICESTER 46: Scott Nicholls 12+1, Ryan Douglas 10, Connor Mountain 9+2, Rory Schlein 7+1, Ellis Perks 7+1, Ty Proctor 1+1, Joe Lawlor 0.
GLASGOW 44: Rasmus Jensen 12+1, Craig Cook 12, Michael Palm Toft 8+1, Connor Bailey 5, Mikkel B Andersen 3, Sam Jensen 3, Kyle Bickley 1.

*THERE was more frustration for the Roger Webster Lion Cubs when their National League clash with Cradley was abandoned after two races.

The Cubs led 8-4 after a Heat 1 win from skipper Danyon Hume and then a 5-1 from reserves Ryan Terry-Daley and Ryan MacDonald in Heat 2.

But a crash in the following race for the Heathens’ Tom Spencer left him requiring medical attention and a trip to hospital – meaning the meeting could not start again within the curfew.

A new date for the match is to be arranged, and the club will also confirm re-admission arrangements in due course.

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