Saturday May 28, 2022
LEICESTER took firm control of their KO Cup quarter-final with a 58-32 win over Scunthorpe at the Paul Chapman & Sons Arena.

The Watling JCB Lions had three unbeaten riders with heat-leaders Richie Worrall, Kyle Howarth and Nick Morris all scoring full or paid maximums, whilst Dan Thompson enjoyed his best meeting for the senior side this season.

But despite the 26-point margin between the sides, it was a hugely entertaining meeting with passing galore as the Lions frequently fought their way through from the back.

And the efforts of Scorpions skipper Simon Lambert, who scored paid-14 from seven rides, and Jake Allen, at least meant they fared better than in their early April defeat despite operating rider replacement for the injured Ryan Douglas.

Thompson got the better of guest Justin Sedgmen in Heat 1 as the Lions opened with a 5-1, before a terrific ride by brother Joe saw him pass Lambert off the final bend of the reserves’ race to snatch victory on the line.

Lions led 20-10 after five races before a tremendous Heat 6 which saw Worrall make it past Sedgmen on the second lap, whilst Dan Thompson chased hard and then superbly switched inside the Australian off the final bend for another 5-1.

The Scorpions looked set to respond with a maximum of their own in Heat 8, only for their pairing of Lambert and Jordan Palin to appear to make contact resulting in Palin going wide on turns one and two, and Dan Thompson coming through for second place.

Morris quickly got the better of Sedgmen as the Lions took a 4-2 in Heat 9, and then came another tremendous race with Worrall getting the better of Allen in the early stages before Thompson again came from the back, moving inside him going into the last lap to complete the 5-1.

Skipper Howarth then rode a stormer in Heat 11 to move inside Lambert on the second lap, before charging inside Allen on the last two bends to move his opponent out and take his third win of the night.

Lambert battled away to split Morris and Joe Thompson in Heat 12, but the Lions raced to a clear 5-1 in Heat 13 with Worrall doing it from the start and Howarth quickly going past Sedgmen for second.

The Scorpions did collect a 4-2 from Heat 14, their second advantage of the night, with Connor Mountain riding strongly to hold Lambert at bay, but the Lions rounded things off with another 5-1 in Heat 15 with Howarth this time making the gate and Worrall decisively going inside Allen on the second lap to also complete a five-ride paid maximum.

Lions boss Stewart Dickson said: “It was a thoroughly professional job from our point of view. I could be greedy and say we maybe should have scored a few more, but all in all we’re very satisfied with the result and we have one foot in the semi-finals.

“You never say never because it can come back and bite you, but I think if we went there and only scored 31 points, questions would be asked.

“I know there had been one or two comments aimed in the direction of Leicester about a lack of passing, and I think that comes from people who maybe haven’t been to Leicester in quite some time.

“Anybody who was here tonight would have seen a lot of passing, and thankfully it was mostly by the Leicester riders, but in fairness to Simon Lambert he did a lot of passing and had an excellent meeting, and both he and Jake Allen provided good entertainment.

“But from our point of view we thought there were some very good races, lots of passing, and our fans went home happy, which is my job as track curator, along with Andy Hill – and our riders, and the away riders, seemed happy with the track tonight.”

The date for the second leg is to be confirmed after Friday’s abandonment, but the Lions have a busy week ahead starting with a trip to Birmingham on Wednesday.

And then it’s a double double-header at the weekend with away matches for the Lions and Lion Cubs at Berwick on Saturday, with the return fixtures at the Paul Chapman & Sons Arena on Sunday (4pm start).

LEICESTER 58: Richie Worrall 14+1, Kyle Howarth 14+1, Nick Morris 12, Dan Thompson 8+3, Connor Mountain 5, Joe Thompson 4, Anders Rowe 1.
SCUNTHORPE 32: Simon Lambert 12+2, Jake Allen 11, Justin Sedgmen 7, Zaine Kennedy 1+1, Jordan Palin 1, Jamie Halder 0, Ryan Douglas r/r.

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