The Monarch Oxford Cheetahs registered a two-point victory over Poole Pirates in a dramatic KO Cup Semi Final tie in front of a bumper crowd at Oxford Stadium on Wednesday.
Cheetahs surrendered an eight-point lead at the interval to trail by two points entering a crucial last heat decider ahead of tomorrow night’s second leg in Dorset.
Captain fantastic Scott Nicholls paired up with Sam Masters to bring home a huge maximum in the finale, though, to take a two-point lead to Wimborne Road and keep hopes of a first KO Final appearance in 26 years alive.
Nicholls scooped Cheetahs’ Rider of the Night award having dropped only one point from his five rides while Kyle Newman in the opposing camp (11+2) was the only other rider to return with a double-figure haul.
There were race wins elsewhere for Sam Masters, Cameron Heeps, Lewis Kerr and Jordan Jenkins while Henry Atkins and Ryan Kinsley chipped in with 1+1 and 2 respectively.
Reacting to the win, Monarch Cheetahs Team Manager Peter Schroeck said: “We got really stuck in tonight and while there is some frustration in the camp that we let our eight-point lead slip we can’t be too hard on ourselves.
“Poole are a quality side, and we never expected them to roll over and let their mid-meeting blip get to them. They fought back hard and we’ve got to do the same tomorrow in Dorset.
“On behalf of everyone at the club, I also want to say a huge thank you to everyone who turned out in force.
“The positive connections we have built within our community, and with the supporters is paying dividends and we’re truly grateful for everyone’s continued support of speedway in Oxford.
“Tomorrow will be tough, but we have a lead. And we’re going to do everything possible to take the meeting to Poole tomorrow and give them a hard time.”
The Monarch Cheetahs return to action on Wednesday night for the second leg of their Knockout Cup Semi Final against Poole Pirates. Tapes-up at Wimborne Road is at 7.30pm.
Monarch Cheetahs 46: Sam Masters 9+2, Cameron Heeps 7, Lewis Kerr 7+1, Jordan Jenkins 6+1, Scott Nicholls 14, Henry Atkins 1+1, Ryan Kinsley 2.
Poole Pirates 44: Steve Worrall 8+1, Anders Rowe 1+1, Ben Cook 9+1, Zach Cook 7+1, Richard Lawson 7, Kyle Newman 11+2, Adam Roynon 1+1.