LEICESTER Lion Cubs were beaten 50-39 at Oxford on Wednesday in their first away National Development League match of the season.

It was a meeting which saw the Lion Cubs enjoy very little in the way of good fortune, although the Chargers did deserve their victory inspired by flying reserve Luke Killeen.

Positive signs for the Cubs came with two very impressive race wins from fast-gating Ashton Boughen, and a strong display from new club asset Max Perry despite an inexplicable Heat 7 disqualification.

Conditions were tricky for both teams after a heavy downpour an hour before the meeting, and the Oxford track staff worked hard to get the meeting on.

The scores were level after the first five races with Max James recovering third place in Heat 2 despite being handicapped 15 metres for touching the tapes, whilst Perry took a fine win over home heat-leader Henry Atkins in Heat 3.

With skipper Joe Thompson taking Heat 4, albeit with James falling when third, and Boughen riding a great race to defeat Atkins in the next, the Cubs were working their way into the meeting and took the lead with 5-1 in Heat 6 as Thompson fended off the attack of Jordan Jenkins, who fell on the last bend enabling Vinnie Foord to complete the maximum.

But the Chargers levelled almost immediately as Heat 7 took three attempts to run. In the first staging, Tom Spencer gated level with the home duo and was brought down on the first bend, with all four riders quite rightly being allowed back for the re-run.

However, at the second time of asking Perry made a much better start and was level with Killeen going into the bend – but when Killeen went down, Perry was unbelievably disqualified when all four back again seemed the obvious call.

Despite that setback, the Cubs went back ahead in Heat 8 with Boughen riding a strong first lap to defeat Killeen, whilst James held off Jacob Clouting for third.

But there was a huge swing in Heat 9 when the Cubs were initially on for a 4-2 with Thompson out-front and Foord passing Jody Scott for third place, only to spear into the fence on the fourth bend. The re-run saw Thompson lead again but he was sent wide by a good pass by Atkins, and over-slid on turn two before falling and being unable to get going again, handing the Chargers a 5-0.

The home side added two 4-2s in the next three races to go seven points up, recent signing Ryan Kinsley holding off Dan Thompson in Heat 11, and there was frustration for the Thompson twins in a competitive Heat 13 as they lost out to Jenkins and Killeen who secured the match for the Chargers.

The final two races were shared with James enjoying his best ride of the night to finish second in Heat 14, whilst the finale saw Dan Thompson throw everything at Jenkins but be unable to find his way past the Oxford captain.

Cubs boss Dave Howard said: “We had a good start and we were four points up after six, and then in Heat 7 Tom had been knocked and fell, and everyone was put back.

“But then when exactly the same thing happened, Max was excluded, and that was the start of the move the other way.

“When Joe fell he couldn’t see out of his goggles, and those three heats after we were four-up obviously changed the whole face of the meeting.

“It was really key to gate tonight, and we had some good gating – Ashton had two great wins, Joe had a really good start to the meeting but then had misfortune in his last two, and Max as well had three really good rides and was very unfortunate to get excluded in the other.

“It was a difficult night on a difficult track after the heavy shower, everybody gave it their all, and looking at the aggregate situation we have confidence in what we can do on our home track. It was just one of those nights in the last few heats.”

OXFORD 50: Luke Killeen 13+1, Jordan Jenkins 12, Ryan Kinsley 10+1, Henry Atkins 8, Jody Scott 3+2, Jacob Clouting 3, Jacob Fellows 1+1
LEICESTER 39: Ashton Boughen 8+2, Dan Thompson 8, Max Perry 7, Dan Thompson 6, Vinnie Foord 4+1, Max James 4+1, Tom Spencer 2+1

Next Home Meeting

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

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