Saturday, June 15, 2024
CheetahsOxford Speedway

REPORT: Cheetahs edged out in cracking meeting at Edinburgh

MONARCH Oxford Cheetahs were squeezed out by 44-46 in an absorbing Cab Direct Championship contest at Edinburgh’s Armadale Stadium last night (Friday).

In a very tight meeting where neither side took a 5-1 all evening, Oxford could have snatched the verdict in the concluding Heat 15. Cheetahs were just two points down going into the race and represented by Scott Nicholls and the previously unbeaten Sam Masters.

Edinburgh’s Justin Sedgmen was first away ahead of the Oxford pair. Nicholls swept around him around after a lap, while Josh Pickering passed Masters into third place at the same time. Masters thrust under Sedgmen on the fourth turn of lap 2, but moments later, Pickering flew round Nicholls after two laps into the lead. Sedgmen pulled out on third lap with a sick motor, but with Pickering up front, Monarchs snatched the verdict by two points.

Cheetahs still comfortably won the aggregate bonus point by 98-82, which takes them into fourth place and into the play-off places.

The final race was the concluding act in a tense and exciting night of speedway. Cheetahs never led, but never dropped more than four points behind the home side.

Cheetahs’ guest Jacob Hook replaced Ashton Boughen, who was en route to a World Under-21 Championship qualifier in France. Hook scored some valuable points and passed Connor Coles three times during the course of the evening, including in Heat 14, where Cameron Heeps and Hook went either side of Coles after a lap to secure a 3-3 behind the impressive Paco Castagna and take the meeting to the final race.

Heeps was solid and took four second places, including a pass on Kye Thomson in Heat 3 that avoided an early 5-1 to Monarchs.

Both Jordan Jenkins (4+2) and Luke Killeen (2) rode better than their final tallies suggested. Jenkins moved inside Coles in Heat 12 for an important second place, while Killeen held a 5-1 with Masters in Heat 5, until a slight error from the 19-year-old on the third lap which allowed Castagna into second place.

Oxford Charger Jody Scott – replacing the injured Henry Atkins – rode in his first full meeting at Cab Direct Championship level. He was in second place at one point of Heat 2, but he eventually fell in that race. He also gave Lasse Fredriksen a run for his money in Heat 6, but ultimately his finished the night with no reward to show for his efforts.

Nicholls won Heat 4 after a classy outside pass by Sedgmen, and was then passed himself by Pickering in Heat 6. Nicholls again showed a liking for the outside line to win a battle with Castagna in Heat 9.

In Heat 13, with Masters out front, Nicholls found himself boxed between Sedgmen and Pickering, as a blanket could have been thrown over the three riders for much of the race. Nicholls held off Pickering, and then just missed out in snatching second place from Sedgmen on the line in a photo finish.

Oxford team manager Peter Schroeck said: “When a team loses by such a small margin, you always reflect on the points that got away from you during the evening. But our riders gave their all and I couldn’t have asked for any more from them.

“It was so close all night and I never had the opportunity to put in a tactical substitute.

“The track was very slick, which made bike set-up tricky, but it still produced good racing and the riders from both sides should take credit for being involved in what was a very good speedway meeting.

“In the meantime, we picked up an aggregate bonus point and that puts us into the play-off places. The key is to pick up points from every meeting, and the hard work we did to beat Edinburgh well at Oxford meant we came out of today with a point and it means we don’t make the long drive home completely empty handed.”  

Cheetahs are next in action at Scunthorpe next Friday (June 14), when another aggregate bonus point is up for stakes, with Oxford holding a 55-34 advantage after the clash at Sandy Lane.

There are two meetings at Oxford Stadium next week. OXS Oxford Spires host league leaders Ipswich Witches on Thursday (June 13) in the ROWE Motor Oil Premiership, while unbeaten Real Mini Company Oxford Chargers powered by SD Timmo Car Sales entertain Belle Vue Colts on Sunday (June 16). Tickets are on sale at https://oxfordspeedway.club/tickets/

Edinburgh Monarch 46: Josh Pickering 11, Lasse Fredriksen 5+1, Kye Thomson 5+1, Paco Castagna 10, Justin Sedgmen 9, Max Perry 1+1, Connor Coles 5+1.

Monarch Oxford Cheetahs 44: Sam Masters 13+1, Luke Killeen 2, Jordan Jenkins 4+2, Cameron Heeps 8, Scott Nicholls 11, Jacob Hook 6+1, Jody Scott 0.

PHOTO: Sam Masters top-scored for Cheetahs with 13+1 (pic: Steve Edmunds)