Event: 24th July 2011
Report: Shane Hudson
Sheffield's chance to keep in the hunt for Premier League honours came to a halt today after a hard fought match with league leaders Horspath. In a very entertaining and sporting fixture both teams had their share of luck and disappointment, with two races to go the result could have gone either way.
Horspath took a maximum from the first race through Heard and Harris and it wasn't until heat 3 that Sheffield got a heat advantage of their own by way of Angell and Handke, after that Horspath built a steady lead up to the interval taking another three race advantages, a harsh exclusion to Angell for excessive force which even the visitors seemed mystified at didn't help the Sheffield cause.
A 13 point lead to Horspath at the break and the Oxford side looked to be well in control however a tape exclusion to Chris Osborne and a superb piece of team riding from Handke and Ian Grange in the next race yielded a much needed 7-2 to Sheffield, a 5-4 to the Stars two races later after brother Lewis Osborne was put out for moving under starters orders closed the gap further.
Sheffield then turned up the pressure with another Handke and Angell maximum in heat 13 to move within three points of Horspath however Harris was far from happy with Angell's short cut across the centre green going unpunished by the referee. Heat 14 Boaler and Osborne take a 6-4 to restore some breathing space between the teams before perhaps the most controversial race of the day.
Birks and Ian Grange off ins against Szymzak and Carmichael, the race gets under way only for Grange to come down heavily after Szymzak comes hard across the front of him, the referee waves play on but the race has to be halted with Grange laying prone on the track, after some delay for treatment to the injured rider, Szymzak is excluded for cutting across and Grange is in the rerun.
Sensing a chance for a Sheffield 7-2 which would tie the teams at 73 a piece, Birks engineers a clever piece of team riding to get his partner to the front only to be excluded for slowing the race down when in fact it seemed nothing more than a blocking move. The race continued with just Grange and Carmichael, Grange collecting the win. Despite Birks remonstrating with the referee the exclusion stood and both teams are left wondering about the strangest of races.
Despite Sheffield's best efforts Horspath take another heat advantage through Szymzak and Timms in heat 17 to secure the league points and wrap up the match. For Sheffield it was very much a team effort with all riders contributing to the cause, Horspath's Heard, Boaler and Timms all scored big points but again their team mates all made vital contributions just when it was needed.
A good afternoons entertainment, this was the Premier League at its best, some great racing from two hard working teams, long may it continue.
The Combination fixture proved just too much for the young Sheffield team and Horspath ran out easy winners.
Sheffield 84: Jono Birks 13+1, Andy Angell 13+1, Lee Grange 13, Radek Handke 12+4, Ryan Hoyland 11, Ian Grange 9, Leigh Cossey 7+2, Nathan Groves 6+2.
Horspath 90: Paul Heard 15+1, Mark Boaler 15, Chris Timms 14+1, Lewis Osborne 11, Mark: Carmichael 11, Matty Szymzak 10+2, Steve Harris 10+1, Chris Osborne 4.
Sheffield (48+26 Penalty Points) 74: Liam Webster 13, Aiden Owen 12+1, Richard Hudson 7+1, Zach Smurthwaite 7, Jordan Gabbittas 5+1, Vicky Brown 4
Horspath 82: Wayne Clarke 17+1, Mark Carmichael 15+1, Lee Clarke 14+2, Zak Payne
14+1, Jack Smith 12+2, Mark Boaler 10.