WSRA Oxford Charges, powered by SD Timmo Car Sales, showed plenty of mettle to register a 49-40 victory over Belle Vue Colts in a National League encounter at Oxford Stadium last night (Wednesday).
Chargers were missing Luke Killeen with a wrist injury, sustained in the reverse fixture in Manchester a couple of weeks ago. Sam Woods showed a lot of fight as an unattached replacement for Killeen, but it left Oxford slightly vulnerable in the reserve berths.
Jordan Jenkins (full 15-point maximum) and Henry Atkins (13+2 paid maximum) were both unbeaten, while Ryan Kinsley (9+1), Jody Scott (6) and Jacob Clouting (4+2) completed a very solid top five performance for Chargers.
In return, Colts also battled hard, while the meeting was packed full of incident and excellent racing.
Chargers took an opening 4-2 in Heat 1, after a win for Jenkins ahead of rival skipper Jack Smith, while Clouting passed Luke Muff for third place. Woods was second in Heat 2, when he lost control on the fourth bend, and both he and the following Paul Bowen came off. With Woods excluded, fellow reserve Jacob Fellows fell in the re-run, forcing a further stoppage and resulting in a 5-0 for Colts.
Heat 3 saw an alarming spill for Belle Vue’s Matt Marson, after he reared badly on the exit of turn two and thudded into the air fence. Fortunately, he was quickly back on his feet and able to continue, while Atkins hunted down and passed former Charger Sam Hagon on the final bend to a massive roar from the Cowley faithful.
Belle Vue extended their lead back to three points to 13-10 with a 4-2 in Heat 4, but then came two successive 5-1s for Chargers. The first came after Smith was excluded for running into the back of Scott in Heat 5. In the re-run, Atkins produced a perfect team-ride to protect his team partner, after Scott shot from third to first around the outside on the opening lap. Clouting produced a massively impressive ride in Heat 6 to use the outside line to perfection on the opening lap – to defeat Championship rider James Pearson – and join Jenkins for a 5-1.
Hagon rounded Kinsley as Colts pulled back a 4-2 in Heat 7, while there was an intriguing battle in Heat 8. Woods led early on, before Muff took over. Woods then fended off Freddy Hodder, before Clouting forced his way past Hodder into third place on the final lap, as the race finished as a 3-3.
Pearson led Heat 9, but under pressure from Atkins, the Australian lifted alarmingly entering the third bend. Atkins kept the throttle on to burst around Pearson, who managed to fend off Scott for second place, as Chargers extended their lead back to five points.
The next three heats were all shared, but certainly not without incident. Kinsley trapped in Heat 11, then Smith fell trying to challenge him on the second bend. It was certainly didn’t look like a first bend bunching incident, but Smith was allowed back in the re-run, where Kinsley produced a wonderful ride to pass both Muff and then – with a lap remaining – Smith to win the race.
Heat 12 saw Woods crash down, after Hagon went wide into his path on the opening bend. Again, all four came back, to the growing consternation of the Oxford crowd, where Atkins kept up his unbeaten record in the re-run.
Chargers put victory almost beyond doubt after a tapes-to-flag 5-1 for Jenkins and Kinsley in Heat 13 which took the score to 43-34 and meant Chargers only had to provide a finisher in the last two races.
Hodder and the slightly erratic Marson took a 5-1 in heat 14, although Scott was very close to Marson by the end of the race. Jenkins and Atkins both trapped in Heat 15 and completed their maximums as Chargers ended up with a nine-point margin of victory.
Henry Atkins, who scored a 13+2 paid maximum, said: “It was always going to be tough tonight, but we kept on plugging away, took charge through a couple of 5-1s and it all came good in the end.
“In my first race, I had my set-up from last week, and I knew if I kept chasing Sam (Hagon), I would get him eventually and I passed him on the final bend.
“After that we made a few changes and I was gating well. It was good to get the 5-1 with Jody [in Heat 5]. There was no point racing him in that one, so I just covered the inside and made sure no-one was getting through.
“When James Pearson reared in front of me [in Heat 9], the gap was getting smaller and smaller, but I kept it going and got around him and then pulled away.
“It was good to finish with a paid maximum. Jordan and I discussed the gate positions before Heat 15, and I said I’d prefer the inside. He still managed to make a great start from gate four and we took a good 5-1 to finish the night on a high.”
WSRA Oxford Chargers, powered by SD Timmo Car Sales 49: Jordan Jenkins 15, Jacob Clouting 4+2, Henry Atkins 13+2, Jody Scott 6, Ryan Kinsley 9+1, Sam Woods 2, Jacob Fellows 0.
Belle Vue Colts 40: Jack Smith 4, Luke Muff 5+1, Sam Hagon 8+1, Matt Marson 5+1, James Pearson 8, Paul Bowen 3+2, Freddy Holder 7.
Belle Vue win aggregate point by 96-82.
PHOTO: Jordan Jenkins and Ryan Kinsley take a 5-1 in Heat 13 (pic: STEVE EDMUNDS)