LEICESTER were beaten 50-39 at Workington in the NDL on Saturday – but that doesn’t tell the story of a remarkable effort by a totally depleted Lion Cubs side.

Already without Dan Thompson (concussion) and Vinnie Foord (wrist), the visitors were reduced to just three of their regular riders, and only five in total, before three races had been completed at Northside.

The problems began with Ashton Boughen, who had been present on track walk, a non-starter with his van leaving the stadium before the meeting commenced as his father was not feeling well.

That forced the Lion Cubs to track no rider at No.2, with no facility permitted, and if that wasn’t enough they then lost Tom Spencer with a suspected broken wrist when he tangled with Sam McGurk in Heat 3.

Cubs regulars Joe Thompson, Max Perry and Max James were left to battle on with guests Adam Roynon and Kai Ward, yet incredibly they were only five points down with three races remaining.

Perry was the Cubs’ first race winner in the re-start of Heat 3 and skipper Thompson took the flag in the next race in a 4-2 with James third ahead of Harry McGurk.

Five of the next six races were shared with Thompson losing out to impressive Comets No.1 Connor Bailey in Heat 6, whilst James took an excellent win over McGurk and Luke Harrison in Heat 8 and Thompson followed up against Sam McGurk and Luke Crang in the next.

There was a 3-2 to the home side in Heat 11 with the Cubs only able to field Roynon, but whilst Harrison took the win for the Comets, his team-mate Ace Pijper suffered mechanical trouble and was unable to finish.

Perry and the hard-working James shared Heat 12 behind Sam McGurk before the Comets edged a couple of points further clear with a 4-2 in Heat 13 thanks to Pijper’s late pass on Thompson.

The match was finally secured by the home side with a 5-1 from Harrison and Crang over the Cubs reserves in Heat 14 – but Perry and Thompson kept Sam McGurk at the back in a shared finale, which against all the odds means Leicester still have a chance of taking the aggregate point when the sides meet again on September 9.

Manager Dave Howard said: “Overall our five riders put in an absolutely amazing effort, and it was a great performance from them.

“My feelings are that if we’d had all seven riders, and not having lost the two we did, we would have won the meeting.

“The riders gave it everything, coming from the back on a track where the inside is the most decisive line, and all credit to them for pushing Workington all the way.

“Max Perry had his best meeting for us with 11 points, Joe and Adam gave it everything, Max James scored paid-12 from seven rides and he’s coming on so much which is great to see, and Kai Ward didn’t have much luck but he gave it his all too.

“It was so unfortunate for Tom when he connected with the Workington rider, and we believe he’s got a broken wrist. We were only able to use the reserves to replace him, added to having to go into three races with no replacement for Ashton.”

The Lion Cubs are back in action next Saturday (June 17) when they visit Edinburgh.

WORKINGTON 50: Connor Bailey 14+1, Luke Harrison 11+1, Ace Pijper 9, Sam McGurk 9, Luke Crang 5+4, Harry McGurk 2, Callum Foy (no.8) 0, Elliot Kelly r/r.
LEICESTER 39: Max Perry 11, Max James 9+3, Joe Thompson 9+1, Adam Roynon 8, Kai Ward 2+1, Tom Spencer 0, Ashton Boughen dnr.

Photo credit: DAVE PAYNE

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