A healthy crowd assembled at Harbourside Park in anticipation of a close and keenly contested matchup between the 2011 league champions Horspath and a Poole side boosted by the inclusion of ex-world champion Marcin Szymanski.
They were not disappointed as this was a match with everything - cut and thrust racing, controversy, drama capped off by a last heat decider which saw the home side lower the colours of the Oxford visitors for the first time in eleven seasons.
The Hammers suffered an early setback when Lewis Osborne got his marching orders in heat 1 for bringing down Thomas Reed and Poole capitalised with a 7-2 in the re-start. Greg Gluchowski outpaced Matt Szymczak in a drawn heat 2 but the visitors hopes were raised when Tom Colling moved at the tapes in the third race leaving home debutant Marcin Szymanski alone on gate four.
The ex-world champ brought the crowd to life with a breathtaking turn of speed around the first turn to lead home the Bates/Carmichael pairing. The margin narrowed with a 6-4 from the Osborne brothers but in heat 6 the temperature rose considerably when Mark Boaler collided with Tom Colling with both riders ending in a heap. Referee Spicer swiftly point to the Hammers captain who was far from happy with his exclusion. Colling won the re-start while Szymanski held off his Leszno team mate Matt Szymczak for another Poole 7-2.
Horspath hit back with two 6-4s before the break, courtesy of wins from the impressive Shaun Rudman and Mark Carmichael to put the interval scoreline at 45-42. Two more drawn heats after the break with further wins from Polish Aces Gluchowski and Szymanski followed by another share of the spoils when Boaler had his best ride of the day to outfox Thomas Reed. Then a dramatic heat 13 saw the visitors draw level with a controversial 6-3 as Tom Colling fell heavily and landed the wrong side of the safety fence after a clash with Errol Thaw while Lewis Osborne became the only Horspath rider to head Marcin Szymanski who just ran out of room in his efforts to overtake Lewis.
Shaun Rudman picked up his second race win in a shared heat 14 but then incurred a costly tapes exclusion in the next race when Horspath looked set for a maximum heat advantage. Lewis Bates headed Arron Morgan and Leyton Glover in the re-start but Poole were back in front, albeit by a slender one point margin. That advantage was extended to three in heat 16 when the Tom-Tom pairing of Reed and Colling weighed in with a 6-4 over Lewis Osborne and Matt Szymczak. In the penultimate race, Boaler challenged Gluchowski for the lead but lost control of his bike and in the confusion Lewis Bates came through for another win while Greg tucked in behind team mate Sam Hearn for a vital 5-5.
This left Poole in the happy position of an 84-81 lead with inside gates and star man Marcin Szymanski who did not disappoint with a convincing win from gate 1 to the obvious pleasure of his Seaview team mates and the many home supporters who turned out for the occasion which was captured in film in readiness for the Sky Sports Unlimited coverage of cycle speedway to be broadcast later in the year.
Poole 89: Marcin Szymanski 18, Gre Gluchowski 16, Thomas Reed 12, Sam Hearn 12, Tom Colling 11, Leyton Glover 7, Arron Morgan 7, Pete Young 6.
Horspath 86: Lewis Bates 15. Lewis Osborne 14, Shaun Rudman 13, Mark Carmichael 12, Chris Osborne 9, Matt Szymczak 9, Mark Boaler 9, Errol Thaw 5.
Referee: Robin Spicer
Reinforced by Stoke duo Simon Munden and Richard Harrison, Horspath packed just too much firepower for the hosts in a hotly contested division 2 encounter.
They reeled off three 6-4's to open up the proceedings and while Poole rallied in mid-match, they were just unable to get on terms as Munden and the impressive Zac Payne lead their team to a deserved victory. Poole were boosted by an excellent performance from Matt Mildon in his first match of the season and another good showing by Wil Bristowe.
Poole 60: Matt Mildon 14, Wil Bristowe 13, Oli Sidwick 9, Arron Smith 7, Luke Armes 6, Kyran Yeatman 6, Dave Murphy 4, Rob Haywood 1.
Horspath 68: Simon Munden 15, Zac Payne 13, Wayne Clarke 11, Richard Harrison 9, Lee Clarke 9, Mike Burgess 7, Mark Janes 4.
Referee: Mike Legge
On a fine clear afternoon the Aces were as bright as the weather as they piled on the score in this Elite League fixture against East Anglia's Ipswich Eagles.
The meeting started on a steady note refereed by Richard Hughes with a five all shared heat one, but then the Aces began to start hauling in the points with a 6-4 heat advantage when Gavin Wheeler and Ricki Johnson were split by former Ace Richard Williamson.
Wednesfield then banged in two 7-3's, the first from the Draisaey and Mould pairing over the Grange brothers Ian and Lee and the other from Griffiths and Aris against Mower and Hill. Ten points up after just four races the Aces then consolidated a bit with next three heats drawn 5-5.
Wednesfield felt a little injustice when Chris Jewkes was left at the start line in heat seven when there was a definite movement on the tapes by a Eagles rider and then in the next heat Gavin Wheeler was excluded for movement at the start but young powerhouse Ricki Johnson battled his way through in the re-run to split the Ipswich pairing of Brooke and Mower. The Aces then finished the first half off with a comfortable 6-4, half time score 49-40.
Wednesfield started the second half in the same frame of mind with a 6-4 from Mould and Jewkes against Williamson and Felgett. Wheeler and Johnson then did the same over the Grange brothers, but then Ipswich had a bit of luck when Lee Aris came crashing down on the top bend after trying to dive under the leading Ipswich pairing of Williamson and Chittock, Lee picking himself up and trailing in last giving Ipswich only their second race win of the meeting the next race was a 5-5 but then the Aces powered on an slapped in another three 7-3's heat wins.
Heat 17 was shared and then the Aces finished the meeting with another 7-3 from Mould and Wheeler.
Wednesfield Aces 103: Ben Mould 20, Lee Aris 16+1, Gavin Wheeler 15+1, Luke Draisey 12+2, Ricki Johnson 12, Matt Haddock 11, Mark Griffiths 9+1, Chris Jewkes 8+2.
Ipswich Eagles 75: Josh Brooke 16, Jamie Chittock 13+1, Richard Wuilliamson 13, Lee Grange 9+2, Ian Grange 9, Leon Mower 7+2, Ashley Hill 5, Richard Felgett 3.
The Ipswich Eagles gained sweet revenge in the combo match winning by 52-78 with some good team work from their youngsters Charlie Rumbold and Will Clarke helped by the steady work of Jordan Stant with a couple of good rides from Lauren Jacobs, Aces veteran Mick Aris led by example with a couple of race wins but on the day the Aces combo team were out gunned by the Eagles.
Wednesfield Aces 52: Mick Aris 11, Dave Meanley 9, Sam Parr 9, Harry Everiss 8, Arron O'Brien 6+1, Charlie Ellitts 6.
Ipswich Eagles 78: Charlie Rumbold 16+4, Will Clark 15, Jordan Stant 12+2, Matt Hill 9+1, Lauren Jacobs 9, Frazer Harris 7+1.
One thing is for certain, if Sheffield can field their full strength team for the remainder of the season they are going to be a serious bet for the title. Leicester on the other hand could not field their best eight and paid the price with a heavy defeat.
The match was reasonably tight until heat seven, the superb Radek Handke outgated Nowacki and the world champion fell whilst attempting a pass, the resulting maximum to the Stars leaving them eight points to the good.
The Monarchs did show more fight after the interval but no one could stop maximum man Handke. The flying Pole had good back up throughout, particularly from the Birks/Hoyland, Angell/Smith pairings. The home side could only manage four heat advantages all afternoon, Nowack took two wins and reserve Hemsley only dropped one point from the reserve berth but otherwise there wasn’t a great deal of positives for the home supporters to shout about.
Leicester 79: Lukas Nowacki 14+2, Kev Burns 11, Phil Howells 11, Jason Ashford 11, Adam Peck 11, David Hemsley 10+1, Dan Pike 8, Nick Whitehead 3.
Sheffield 98: Radek Handke 18+2, Matt Smith 18, Jono Birks 16, Ryan Hoyland 13+1, Andy Angell 13+3, Pawel Idziorek 11, Aiden Owen 5, Dan Chambers 5.
The combination match went Leicester’s way but the Stars battled hard. Mick Skinner notched an untroubled maximum and Carl Jarvis took three rides on his way back to recovery but it was Liam Davies who impressed with his mature riding.
Hats off to Vicky Brown who came out for the nominated heat with three last places against her name. Making a mockery of this she made a superb start and withstood all the pressure to take the win by half a wheel.
Leicester 73: Mick Skinner 16, Ash Doughty 13, Carl Jarvis 10+1, Norm Venson 10+3, Liam Davies 10, Joe Kemp 8+1, Colin Pole 4, Jenna Whitehead 2.
Sheffield 57 (Aiden Owen 11, Zach Smurthwaite 10+1, Liam Webster 9, Richard Hudson 8+1, Vicky Brown 7, Lewis German 7, Adam Watson 5.