PREVIEW: Stoneman absence won’t stop Chargers in their tracks against high-flying Colts

Oxford Chargers can strengthen their spot in the National Development League play-off frame on Wednesday night when hosting Belle Vue Colts at Oxford Stadium (7.30pm).

The city’s newest professional sports team host the high-flying Manchester outfit knowing victory would promote them to third place in British Speedway’s third tier with only three regular season fixtures remaining.

Chargers will, however, be without fans’ favourite Nathan Stoneman who suffered a broken shoulder blade on Saturday night while racing for Championship club Berwick Bandits against Plymouth Gladiators.

Rider replacement will be operated in Stoneman’s absence, but Chargers’ joint team manager Peter Schroeck believes his side remain capable of keeping their unbeaten home record intact.

“It is a blow to lose a rider of Nathan’s ability at this level,” said Schroeck. “But our recent home performances have proven to me that we have a well-rounded team where every rider is capable of winning races.

“Injuries are part and parcel of speedway, and often having the appropriate back-up in place can be the difference between a winning and a losing team. I believe we’ve got the back-up and that Belle Vue remain in for a tough test.

“That doesn’t mean we’re not wary of the threats of Belle Vue, though. Jack Smith is a proven rider at this level, and they’ve booked a dangerous guest in Adam Roynon who we know is capable of scoring points at Oxford in the Championship.”

Chargers’ home fixture this evening is the first of two speedway meetings to be held at Oxford Stadium this week.

On Friday, the Cowley venue will host the prestigious Championship Pairs with a record crowd expected and fans travelling from across Europe to attend ahead of the following day’s British Grand Prix in Cardiff.

Schroeck said hosting the event will mark a proud day for the club as part of a historic regeneration campaign.

“It’s been wonderful to see thousands of people supporting the return of Oxford Speedway every week,” said Schroeck. “We anticipated a sell-out crowd initially, and our challenge was to retain that level of engagement through the summer especially while children were at school.

“Last week’s visit of Poole was one of our most entertaining fixtures of the year. Of course, we were disappointed not to pinch a win at the end, but everyone left on a high knowing speedway was the winner.

“The sport has experienced a tough spell in recent years. Oxford’s story can help bring the good times back and place British Speedway firmly back on the map.”

Tickets for Oxford Chargers’ National Development League fixture against Belle Vue Colts are on sale now and can be purchased here.  Adults are priced £12 while U16s attend for free. Tapes-up is at 7.30pm.  

Chargers: Jordan Jenkins, Henry Atkins, Sam Hagon, Jody Scott, Nathan Stoneman R/R, Arran Butcher, Jacob Clouting.

Colts: Jack Smith, Harry McGurk R/R, Adam Roynon (G), Sam McGurk, Jake Mulford, Archie Freeman, Freddy Holder.