Saturday, June 15, 2024
CheetahsOxford Speedway

REACTION: “I prefer to take the positives from the night, and it just makes us all the more determined to do well in both the league and the cup.”

MONARCH Oxford Cheetahs took it to the penultimate race at Plymouth last night (Saturday), eventually losing by 41-49 in a BSN Series fixture.

Gladiators stormed 9-3 ahead after two races and had extended that lead to 22-14 after six races.

Jordan Jenkins won his second successive race in Heat 7, and Cameron Heeps joined him for a 5-1, as they fended off Ben Barker, previously unbeaten from his previous eight rides around the Coliseum in 2024.

When Luke Killeen and Henry Atkins popped out of the start in Heat 8, it looked like Cheetahs could level the scores with a second successive 5-1. But Aflie Bowtell fell on his own on the first comer and was somewhat generously allowed back in the re-run. Bowtell and Jacob Hook then zipped away for a 5-1, while Plymouth extended their lead further to ten points with a 4-2 in Heat 9.

Jenkins, aiming to make it three wins out of three, nudged the tapes and was excluded in Heat 10, but Heeps and Killeen still took a 4-2.

Oxford team manager Peter Schroeck placed Scott Nicholls into Heat 11 as a tactical substitute and he joined Sam Masters for a 5-1 as they blocked out Barker between them and reduced the deficit to four points.

After a 4-2 to Plymouth in Heat 12, Nicholls and Masters were aiming for another 5-1 in Heat 13. But Barker hit the back straight fence, rebounded across the track and Masters somehow avoided him. The pair continued to be involved in a fierce battle for second place, won by Barker, as Cheetahs had to be content with a 4-2, while there were words between Masters and the somewhat erratic Barker after the race.

Jenkins was sandwiched by the Plymouth pair on the first turn of Heat 14 and took an awkward tumble. He was able to take his place in the re-run, but Joe Thompson and Kyle Newman took a 5-1 that clinched both victory and the aggregate bonus point for Gladiators.

Nicholls (13+1) and Masters (10+1) were top scores for Cheetahs, while Newman had an exceptional night for Plymouth – thanks to a fine display of fast starting – and scored 14+1.

Peter Schroeck said: “We went into tonight with only a two-point margin from our home meeting, while we cannot under-estimate what Plymouth can do on their our track.

“We did have one or two little pieces of bad luck, for example one race [Heat 8] got stopped when we were on a 5-1 and Plymouth took a 5-1 in the re-run. It’s small moments that can shift the momentum on the night.

“I thought it was important to put the tactical substitute against Ben Barker in Heat 11 and allow Scott and Sam to get a 5-1 over him heading into the concluding races.

“The boys got stuck in, but one or two of them were struggling tonight – it’s not the easiest place to come. But I prefer to take the positives from the night, and it just makes us all the more determined to do well in both the league and the cup.

“We had a really good result against Glasgow in the cup earlier in the week and we weren’t far off tonight. We’ll pick ourselves up from today, and when we conclude our BSN Series campaign at Oxford on Wednesday, we’ll certainly be looking to give Poole a hard time – we’re always out to beat the Pirates.”

Plymouth Gladiators 49: Nico Covatti R/R, Alfie Bowtell 5, Dan Thompson 9+2, Kyle Newman 14+1, Ben Barker 10, Joe Thompson 6, Jacob Hook 5+2.

Monarch Oxford Cheetahs 41: Sam Masters 10+1, Henry Atkins 0, Cameron Heeps 7+1, Jordan Jenkins 6, Scott Nicholls 13+1, Ashton Boughen 0, Luke Killeen 5+1.