Saturday July 09, 2022
LEICESTER overcame all the odds to defeat Oxford 51-39 in the NDL on Saturday – despite the loss of No.1 Dan Thompson after just one ride.

Thompson was involved in a crash in the first staging of Heat 1 and was unable to race beyond the re-run, which gave the Lion Cubs a major uphill task against a highly-rated Chargers side.

But the response was sensational with skipper Joe Thompson racing to an immaculate paid maximum, Connor Coles dropping just one point in six rides, and youngster Max Perry making a vital contribution in the second half of the meeting.

There were also key points elsewhere in the side as the Cubs overcame one of the teams who are strongly fancied to reach the play-offs – with Leicester now on 20 points and just two behind leaders Berwick.

Dan Thompson’s accident came when he was brought down by Arran Butcher on the first lap of Heat 1 on the fourth bend, with Butcher clearly taking Thompson's wheel after the Leicester rider had made his move on the outside.

And after just losing out to Jordan Jenkins in the re-run, Thompson had to retire from the meeting suffering with dizziness.

The Chargers sparked first with a 5-1 in Heat 2, with late replacement Jody Scott – in for the injured Luke Killeen kicking off a most promising display.

The meeting was tight thereafter as the visitors protected their four-point lead, and it took until Heat 8 for the Cubs to halve the gap as Perry passed Scott for the lead whilst Mickie Simpson supplied third place.

Coles went back-to-back in Heats 9 and 10 as the Cubs used injury rider replacement for Dan Thompson, and the second of those races saw him defeat Henry Atkins with Simpson again taking an important point ahead of Sam Hagon.

The clashes between Joe Thompson and Jenkins were always likely to be vital, and Thompson took the honours with an outside move on the first lap of Heat 11, as Vinnie Ford did the job for third place over Jacob Clouting.

Heat 12 provided a massive result in the Cubs’ favour with a 5-1 from Coles and Perry after Butcher had crashed out, and that gave them a six-point lead to defend.

Thompson again got the better of Jenkins in a shared Heat 13 and the Cubs secured victory in the next with another great ride by Perry, whilst Tom Spencer took third ahead of Atkins after both Cubs riders had initially been brought down at the first staging.

That meant Oxford needed an advantage from Heat 15 to take a league point, but their lack of race wins and top-end support for Jenkins was always likely to go against them, with youngster Scott deserving his nomination.

But Thompson and Coles finished things off in style with a 5-1 to complete a dominant second half of the meeting from the home side.

Manager Dave Howard said: “That was the performance of the season, an absolutely amazing performance by all the guys.

“Oxford are a really strong side on paper, and losing Dan after Heat 1 and being four behind after seven heats, and then 32-16 in the last eight races was just an unbelievable performance by the guys.

“Everybody dug in and I’m just so proud tonight. It’s the biggest win of the season, and to send them away with no points as well was fantastic, and I can’t say enough about all the guys tonight.

“The points that everybody got made the vital difference in sending Oxford away with no points, and that will make the difference coming to the play-offs, so it was an amazing performance and thanks to all the fans for their support.”

Next meeting at the Paul Chapman & Sons Arena sees both the Lions and the Cubs in action next Saturday against their respective opponents from Edinburgh. The Watling JCB Lions also launch their Summer Trophy schedule at Redcar on Friday.

LEICESTER 51: Joe Thompson 18, Connor Coles 16+1, Max Perry 9+1, Mickie Simpson 3+1, Tom Spencer 2+1, Dan Thompson 2, Vinnie Foord 1.
OXFORD 39: Jordan Jenkins 11, Jody Scott 7+2, Jake Mulford 6+2, Arran Butcher 6+1, Henry Atkins 5+1, Sam Hagon 4+1, Jacob Clouting 0.

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