Location: Harbourside Park
Event: 21 August 2011
Report: Graham Sutton
Another epic encounter between these top two Southern clubs saw the reigning champions secure the Premier League points after an exciting match and a last heat decider.
Few would have put money on such a close finish at the interval stage with the Hammers 13 points to the good, leading 51-38. However, the legendary fighting spirit of the Dorset club, spurred on by a healthy crowd reduced the margin to just four points with three races to go.
Visiting riders won the first four races before Thomas Reed outpaced Paul Heard in a shared heat 5. Then disaster struck for Poole as Chris Roberts moved on gate 2 and Greg Gluchowski could make no impression on the powerful Chris Timms/Lewis Osborne pairing in the re-start. After two shared races, there was more disappointment for the hosts in heat 9 which was another high octane classic as all four got stuck in and changed places throughout before the two Chris', Osborne and Timms clinched a maximum race by the skin of the teeth after Chris Roberts took a tumble.
Unusually Greg Gluchowski didnt beat an opponent before the break but came out of the interval team talk fired up to win heat 10. A 7-3 had looked on the cards until Mark Carmichael made a robust move on Arron Morgan allowing Lewis Osborne to nip through for three points. A Boaler/Szymczak 6-4 restored the 13 point advantage in heat 11 before Chris Timms showed no ill effects of his week in Poland with a fourth unbeaten ride in heat 12. Thomas Reed worked hard behind captain Pete Young for his third bonus point, keeping Lewis Osborne at bay.
The home crowd came to life in heat 13 when a Roberts/Gluchowski 7-2 narrowed the deficit after Paul Heard picked up a first bend exclusion. Mark Boaler was pushed all the way by Tom Colling in heat 14 while partner Chris Osborne got his marching orders for drifting speedy Arron Morgan once too often in the hectic battle for third place.
At 65-72, the odds were still heavily favouring the Hammers but they shortened considerably in heat 15 which was stopped when Matty Szymczac took a heavy tumble while challenging Artur Poprawski for third place. Arron Morgan lowered the colours of Mark Carmichael for the second time in the match to win the re-start which ended 6-3 and at 71-75, the Seaview boys glimpsed victory on the horizon.
The Hammers skipper Mark Boaler had earlier won the toss for gates and was probably glad to have opened up with outsides as his team lined up on 1 & 3 in an important heat 16. Lewis Osborne sped away from gate 1 leaving team partner Sean Rudman under pressure from Tom Reed until the Poole star pulled off another of his trademark passes to add a fourth bonus point to his final tally behind partner Roberts.
With four second places to his credit, Tom Colling lined up from gate 1 in the vital penultimate race against previously unbeaten Chris Timms and made no mistakes while the visitors sat in for a share of the spoils again to move the scoreline on to 81-85. With the powerful Heard/Boaler pairing off insides in heat 18, the chances of an upset seemed slim and so it proved to be as a 6-4 wrapped up the league points in another epic heat against the all-Polish pairing of Gluchowski and Poprawski with Heard delivering the vital win under pressure.
Together with the earlier match-ups against Sheffield, Wednesfield and Leicester, this was another superb example of what the Premier League is all about, namely quality competitive racing before an appreciative crowd. Whatever changes might be in store for 2012, matches like these must surely be the benchmark.
Poole 85: Tom Colling 16, Arron Morgan 13+1, Greg Gluchowski 13+1, Thomas Reed 12+4, Chris Roberts 11, Artur Poprawski 8+2, Pete Young 8, Leyton Glover 4.
Horspath 91: Chris Timms 17+2, Mark Boaler 16, Paul Heard 15, Lewis Osborne 12+1, Matt Szymczak 10, Sean Rudman 8, Mark Carmichael 7, Chris Osborne 6+1.
Referee - Robin Spicer
Racing for the Division 2 league points was just as competitive as the preceding match and the young riding talent in action was a testament to both clubs. Poole capitalised on their home track advantage in the first four races to go ten points up but it was evenly contested after that as that was the eventual margin of victory.
Sam Hearn and Wil Bristowe were the pick of the home bunch with unbeaten returns while Jake Williams made a successful comeback after his injury lay-off. Matt Coulter and the Clark brothers Wayne and Lee were always in the thick of the action for the Hammers.
Poole 70: Sam Hearn 16, Wil Bristowe 15+1, Luke Armes 11+2, Jake Williams 8+2, Dean Hook 8+1, Aaron Smith 7+1, Kieran Yeatman 3+1, Alex Lane 2.
Horspath 60: Matt Coulter 15+1, Wayne Clarke 14, Lee Clarke 11, Zac Payne 10+2, Charlie Jane Herbert 5, Jordan Richardson 5.
Referee - Pete Young