Wednesday October 02, 2019
LEICESTER were 53-37 winners in their away play-off semi-final against Cradley on Wednesday – to take a huge step towards the National League Grand Final.

The Roger Webster Lion Cubs dominated the first leg from start to finish with the neutral venue of Birmingham proving perfectly suited to their side.

The outcome was a 16-point victory, and the margin would have been even greater but for falls for Josh Embleton and skipper Danyon Hume whilst in 5-1 positions, and a disqualification for ‘delaying the start’ for Luke Ruddick.

But despite those minor setbacks, it was a terrific all-round display from the Lion Cubs who stated their intentions when Ellis Perks controlled Heat 1 whilst Dan Thompson produced a brilliant ride to pass Heathens skipper Max Clegg.

Ryan Terry-Daley and Hume also won their opening races of the meeting, and the Cubs extended their advantage to six points when Perks grabbed his second success in Heat 5 backed up by a third place from Thompson.

Cradley briefly rallied and cut the gap to four with wins for Clegg and Danny Halsey, but an empathic Heat 8 5-1 from Thompson and Terry-Daley put the Cubs firmly back in charge.

And after two shared races, the visitors stretched the advantage with a brace of 5-1s with Thompson benefiting from a fall for the second-placed Halsey in Heat 11 to team up with Perks, whilst Ruddick completed another good night’s work with a win in the next whilst Embleton made an excellent move to round Tom Spencer for second place.

A hat-trick of 5-1s in Heat 13 looked on the cards as Perks and Hume both overcame Clegg on the first lap, only for Hume to fall going into lap three.

But the Heathens were unable to make any inroads into the deficit, despite Jack Smith taking the flag from Terry-Daley and Joe Thompson in Heat 14, whilst the last race saw Clegg fend off early pressure from Perks and Hume and in the process spoil the Cubs No.1’s chances of a maximum.

Manager Dave Howard said: “It was a fantastic performance on what was a really tricky track, so we’re very pleased to get a substantial victory.

“After the heavy rain they’d done really well to get the track as it was, but it was very bumpy and it was important to know which lines to take.

“There were a couple of understandable mishaps, just as the Cradley riders had, but it was an all-round team performance and it puts us in a fantastic position for the second leg.

“We’ve done the hard work in the regular season and now it’s about making sure we do the business in the play-offs, and the team have certainly done that tonight.”

The second leg of the tie takes place at the Paul Chapman & Sons Arena on Saturday as part of a double-header also involving the KO Cup clash with Stoke, starting at 5.30pm.

CRADLEY 37: Max Clegg 12, Jack Smith 10, Danny Halsey 6+1, Tom Spencer 3+1, Harry McGurk 2+1, Luke Priest 2, James Chattin 2.
LEICESTER 53: Ellis Perks 13+1, Danyon Hume 10, Dan Thompson 8+2, Ryan Terry-Daley 8+1, Luke Ruddick 7, Joe Thompson 5+3, Josh Embleton 2+1.

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