LEICESTER pushed home specialists Belle Vue all the way before suffering a 50-40 defeat at the National Speedway Stadium on Friday.

Recent results for the Manchester side have seen them regularly clock up scores of 60+ around their own circuit, but the Lion Cubs kept things much tighter and were close to taking a league point from the meeting.

The Colts were indebted to good performances from both reserves, with first-year rider Freddy Hodder scoring 11+1 as they took the victory, but there were plenty of encouraging displays from the Cubs too.

No.1 Dan Thompson showed his class as he dropped just one point in five rides, losing out to Jack Smith in a terrific Heat 11 with Smith taking the verdict off the last bend.

Skipper Joe Thompson won two races and also performed strongly in Heat 13 when the twins were split by Jake Mulford but managed to keep Smith at the back.

And there was also an excellent display by youngster Max Perry on his first meeting in the main body of the side, as he started the meeting with a 5-1 in Heat 1 over Nathan Ablitt and Mulford as Perry led from the tapes and Dan Thompson passed Ablitt for second place.

Perry also defeated Harry McGurk in Heat 5, and at that stage the Cubs led by two points before the hosts turned it around with a 5-1 in Heat 7.

Ultimately it was 5-1s in Heats 12 and 14 which took the home side out of range in terms of the Cubs taking a league point, but the ten-point margin with further scope for improvement is also grounds for plenty of optimism should the teams meet again in the play-offs.

Manager Dave Howard said: “It’s disappointing not to get a point, but that was still the joint-highest score that any team has got there in the National League this season.

“Everyone gave their all, but a lot of it was related to set-up, and Freddy Hodder had his best meeting of the season for them, so we just missed out.

“There were certain lines on the track that worked in some races but didn’t work in others, so it was a difficult meeting and Belle Vue’s reserves did make the difference.

“It was a great start for his first meeting in the top five for Max, winning Heat 1 and getting seven paid eight, and Dan as well had a great meeting, backed up by Joe.

“There are certainly lessons we can learn from the meeting if we both get into the play-offs and meet each other, and over a two-leg match getting in the 40s would give us a good chance.”

The Cubs still have a job to do to complete the qualification process, and are back in action as a team when they host Kent on Saturday September 3 – but before that, Dan and Joe Thompson represent the club in the NDL Pairs on Saturday (7pm).

BELLE VUE 50: Freddy Hodder 11+1, Jake Mulford 9, Jack Smith 9, Archie Freeman 8+1, Sam McGurk 6+1, Nathan Ablitt 4+1, Harry McGurk 3+2
LEICESTER 40: Dan Thompson 13+1, Joe Thompson 10, Max Perry 7+1, Connor Coles 4, Tom Spencer 4, Mickie Simpson 2, Vinnie Foord 0
NDL League points: Belle Vue 3 Leicester 0

Photo Credit: IAN CHARLES

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