LEICESTER fought back from six points down to maintain their unbeaten home NDL record with a 51-39 win over Belle Vue.

Skipper Joe Thompson raced to his first 15-point maximum of the season for the Lion Cubs, who recovered from a tough opening three races to take a well-earned victory.

Youngster Ashton Boughen again served notice of his massive potential with a hat-trick of wins in the night’s fastest times, and there was also a key win for Max Perry in Heat 12 against Colts captain Jack Smith as the Cubs closed in on their result.

The opening three races hardly went according to plan and in a scrappy first lap of Heat 1, Cubs guest Adam Roynon managed to split Colts duo Sam Hagon and Matt Marson and at least prevent a 1-5.

The visitors then held a maximum position in Heat 2 only for Luke Muff to spin out on turn three, with the resulting pile-up leaving his team-mate Paul Bowen suffering from a leg injury, although he did bravely return for the re-run and won it.

And when Smith and Freddy Hodder gated to a 5-1 for Belle Vue in Heat 3, the Cubs were in the virtually unchartered territory of finding themselves 6-12 down at home.

Thompson steadied the ship by winning Heat 4 and a super maximum followed from Tom Spencer and Perry as they got the better of Hagon in the early stages – before Roynon closed down James Pearson on the first bend of Heat 6 allowing Boughen to fly around the outside, and another Cubs 5-1 was the outcome.

Boughen’s ride was all the more praiseworthy as he had suffered an awkward crash into the air-fence on turn four in the initial staging of the race, ironically long after the red lights had come on for an unsatisfactory start.

That put them ahead for the first time, but the next three races were shared although they would have doubled the lead to four points but for a last-bend tangle in Heat 8 when Max James brought down Marson when going for second place behind Boughen.

The Roynon/Boughen combination secured their second 5-1 in Heat 10 to put the Cubs six points up, and a super ride by Perry in Heat 12 saw him get the better of Smith, gradually easing his opponent out in a lap-long battle, whilst James grabbed an all-important third place.

As Thompson dominated Heat 13, Roynon made a strong move on the outside to set up what would have been a match-winning 5-1 only to then be passed by Pearson and then Hagon as he slowed on the last lap.

But the Cubs weren’t to be denied despite a heavy first-bend crash for Spencer in Heat 14, with the re-run seeing him combine with James for maximum points over Muff and Hodder.

With the match secure, Thompson produced a superb move on turn four of Heat 15 to shoot between Hagon and Pearson to wrap up his full maximum, with Boughen squeezed out on this occasion.

Cubs boss Dave Howard said: “Having been six points down after four races, to win by twelve points was a fantastic result for us.

“Obviously the track was a little tricky at the start because of the heat and the wind, it was drying and being re-watered, and there was a lot of close racing which meant some people were losing it a bit, but everybody is putting everything in and also learning as they go along.

“All of the Belle Vue riders can score points, so certainly after the start we had, it’s a great result.

“Ashton is coming on so much this year, Max James is also having a great first season, Max Perry is being really consistent with his scores in the heat-leader spot, and Tom has put in two really solid performances in the last two home matches.

“We obviously have Dan and Joe doing what they’re doing as well, and next Saturday is Dan’s last day out with concussion, so I’ll be trying to get a good guest for next week.”

The Lion Cubs are back in action next Saturday when they head to NDL newcomers Workington (3pm), where reserve Vinnie Foord hopes to return to action pending the results of an MRI scan on his wrist injury.

LEICESTER 51: Joe Thompson 15, Ashton Boughen 9, Max Perry 8+1, Tom Spencer 7+1, Adam Roynon 6+2, Max James 5+1, Kai Ward 1+1.
BELLE VUE 39: James Pearson 9+1, Sam Hagon 8+1, Jack Smith 8, Matt Marson 5, Freddy Hodder 3+2, Luke Muff 3+2, Paul Bowen 3.

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Leicester Cubs V Scunthorpe Stags / Sheffield Prowlers
May 19, 2024

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