LEICESTER secured top spot in the National Development League with a 52-37 win over Berwick at the Paul Chapman & Sons Arena.

The Lion Cubs recovered from the setback of conceding a 5-0 in Heat 1 to complete a perfect home league record and can now make preparations for the play-off semi-finals.

Their opponents at that stage will be Oxford, who held on to fourth place in the table because of Belle Vue’s surprising failure to score the league point they required at Armadale on Friday.

Leicester will travel to Cowley for the first leg this Wednesday (October 5) and stage the second leg back at home next Saturday, October 8, with the other semi-final to be contested between Mildenhall and Berwick.

The clash with the Bullets got off to the worst possible start with Dan Thompson taking an uncharacteristic fall in Heat 1 and Max Perry also coming to grief in the re-run, with conditions tricky after the rain deluge of Friday.

But the Lion Cubs quickly put that setback behind them with Mickie Simpson and Vinnie Foord collecting a 4-2 from Heat 2 before Connor Coles and Tom Spencer raced to a big 5-1 over Luke Crang in the next.

Another impressive display from Coles saw him drop his only point to Kyle Bickley in Heat 5, and with Dan Thompson recovering from his crash to win Heat 6, the home side appeared to have established control.

The Bullets fought back with Crang doing well to defeat Joe Thompson before Ace Pijper and Mason Watson grabbed a 5-1 in Heat 8, Watson snatching second place from Simpson in the closing stages, meaning the scores were close at 24-23 at the halfway stage.

But the next two races proved decisive with another Coles/Spencer 5-1 in Heat 9 after a scrap with Greg Blair, followed by Perry holding off Crang in the next to secure maximum points along with Dan Thompson.

Joe Thompson just lost out to Bickley in Heat 11 but Coles and Simpson raced to maximum points in Heat 12 which effectively secured victory for the Cubs.

Dan Thompson defeated Bickley in a re-run of Heat 13 after brother Joe had come to grief with Blair laying his machine down in an attempt to avoid him, and there were further race wins for Spencer and Coles in the last two races – although a potential 5-1 in the last went by the wayside with Spencer taking a tumble.

Cubs boss Dave Howard said: “The guys all put every effort in and came out with the result, so it’s a great end to what was a difficult night.

“We had a conversation after Heat 10 about keeping on the outside line coming out of the corners because that was the bit of the track that got better, that’s where the speed was, and they did that and blocked the Berwick riders.

“It’s a great way to end the regular season, but we know Oxford will be a really tough challenge in the play-offs.”

LEICESTER 52: Connor Coles 14, Dan Thompson 9, Tom Spencer 8+3, Mickie Simpson 7+1, Joe Thompson 7, Vinnie Foord 4+2, Max Perry 3+1.
BERWICK 37: Kyle Bickley 11, Luke Crang 9, Mason Watson 6+1, Greg Blair 5+2, Ace Pijper 5+1, Kieran Douglas 1, Ben Rathbone 0.

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