TEAM MANAGER Peter Schroeck was proud of the efforts of Monarch Oxford Cheetahs, despite the 42-48 defeat at Poole last night (Wednesday) that signalled the end of their hopes of qualifying for the final at Sheffield.
The result consolidated second place in the southern section table for Oxford, behind Poole, but in front of Birmingham and Plymouth. Cheetahs have scored at least one league point in all six of their Jubilee League meetings.
Cheetahs – who had also been involved in an absorbing 45-45 draw with Pirates on Tuesday evening – flew into the lead at Wimborne Road after a 5-1 from Paul Starke and Scott Nicholls in Heat 1 and had extended their lead to 19-11 after five races, forcing Pirates into a tactical substitute in Heat 6.
Poole levelled the scores at 21-21, but Cheetahs edged back in front with a 4-2 from Starke and Dillon Ruml in Heat 8 and doubled their lead with a further 4-2 from Aaron Summers and Ruml in Heat 10.
Cheetahs still led by four points with just three races remaining. But Pirates took a 4-2 from Heat 13 and then took the lead for the first time with a 5-1 in Heat 14, before also taking a maximum heat advantage in Heat 15 to clinch victory, with Danny King and Richard Lawson taking a 5-1 over Summers and Nicholls.
Cheetahs took a consolation point for their efforts, but they needed all four league points on the night to prevent Pirates from qualifying for the final.
Schroeck said: “The two meetings against the Pirates, at Oxford on Tuesday at Poole last night (Wednesday) were everything that was good about British Speedway. They were two superb speedway meetings in front of large and enthusiastic crowds.
“I can’t fault the performance from our lads and I’m proud that we gave Poole a real match last night. We had them worried.
“When you’re using rider replacement, as we were at Poole, it’s quite hard. I believe I placed the right riders in the right heats and got the maximum return from them without placing any of them under too much strain, including Dillon (Ruml) who took seven rides.
“We weren’t so much focused on getting 49 points last night, as trying to win the meeting. Of course, as a team manager, there’s always going to be an element of me that is disappointed when we lose, especially when the lads have given so much effort and we were leading for so much of the night.
“It was a long drive home afterwards, especially as the M25 was shut and I had to drive through the middle of London. That just about finished me off last night.
“But then I woke up this morning and I can reflect and be proud how we rode through the Jubilee League campaign – we were very competitive in every single meeting both home and away.
“It was another positive day for Oxford Speedway – we gave Poole a hard time in an entertaining meeting, while the Oxford Chargers took a great home victory (65-25) over Armadale last night too. Jason (Crump) and Jamie (Courtney) were looking after the team for that one and it sounds like it was a great performance from all seven of the lads.
“As I said, I was gutted driving home from Poole last night, as the boys would have been too. But I’m so proud to be part of what we’re building by laying the foundations of Oxford Speedway this year.
“There’s some fabulous people involved with our club and we’ve still got much to look forward to at Oxford over the next three months, including the Championship Pairs next Friday and the Chargers going for glory in the National League.”
Poole Pirates 48: Steve Worrall 6+1, Drew Kemp 0, Danny King 11+1, Ben Cook 6+1, Richard Lawson 16+1, Zach Cook 9+3, Nathan Ablitt 0.
Oxford Cheetahs 42: Scott Nicholls 10+1, Paul Starke 8+1, Jack Thomas R/R, Aaron Summers 9, Troy Batchelor 4+1, Cameron Heeps 3, Dillon Ruml 8.