Bears down, but certainly not out!
The Redcar “Agilia” Bears suffered their first defeat of the season as they were beaten 47-43 by the Oxford Cheetahs in the KO Cup 1st round 1st leg.
The Bears fought admirably to keep their KO Cup dream alive after being down by 10 points after heat 8. Oxford’s star man was their guest, Dan Gilkes who scored 12 points from reserve, he was ultimately the match winner for the Cheetahs.
Heat 1 saw a win for Troy Batchelor but with Charles Wright passing Kyle Newman Redcar limited Oxford to a 4-2. Jason Edwards made a great gate in heat 2 only to make a mistake on his first visit to Sandy Lane on bend 2 which let the Cheetahs through for a 5-1 to extend their early lead to six points.
Back to back 4-2’s saw the Cheetahs march into a 10 point lead as Cameron Heeps and Scott Nicholls made it 4 wins from 4 for an Oxford rider. Redcar got their first win on the board in heat 5 as the skipper got the better of Jack Thomas on the backstraight of lap 1 to take a well deserved win.
Back to back shared heats followed with the Teessiders finding their feet with heat 7 providing the race of the night. Redcar reserve Jordan Jenkins got the drive on the backstraight of the opening lap to take the lead, Nicholls threw everything at Jenkins and ultimately got the better of the young Brit in lap 4 by virtue of a cute outside move.
The Cheetahs then re-established a 10 point lead with their guest Dan Gilkes picking up his first win but with Adam Roynon holding off Kyle Newman the Bears were still in touch. Redcar are known for their never say die attitude and that attitude was typified by Jason Edwards in heat 9. Edwards brilliantly held off both Cheetahs to join Erik Riss at the front to reduce Oxford’s lead to 6.
Heat 10 was shared but controversy followed in heat 11 with Wright being excluded for touching the tapes despite Nicholls seeming to move first. With Wright going off 15 metres Adam Roynon was tasked with at least splitting the Oxford duo. The Cumbrian pulled off a remarkable ride to somehow hold off Scott Nicholls who tried every line as Roynon took a precious win for the Teessiders.
Oxford extended their lead to 8 as Gilkes won yet again with Edwards coming underneath Jack Thomas on the backstraight of the final lap to ensure the lead would not go into double figures. The Bears yet again dragged themselves within 6 as Wright won but Nicholls brilliantly swooped around the outside of Riss to prevent a Bears 5-1.
Gilkes again proved to be a thorn in the Bears side as he won heat 14 from Kerr to re-establish Oxford’s 8 point lead. However, Redcar hit a potentially crucial blow in the context of the tie in heat 15 as Wright won convincingly from the gate whilst Riss just about held off Nicholls on the line to hand Redcar a massive boost heading into Friday’s second leg at the Ecco Arena.
Redcar boss Jade Mudgway was content with his side’s performance, “ I think we will take that result ahead of the second leg. Our boys can do better but Oxford were just sharper out of the starts at some points in the meeting.”
The Kiwi was effusive in his praise for Redcar’s battling spirit, “I’m really proud of the boys, they adapted really well to a track they have never ridden before. The team all battled and never gave in!”
The former Bears rider believes the slow start cost his side, “We had to adjust to a track we have never rode before and I think that’s what cost us overall. We had a couple of decisions not go our way but that’s speedway!”
Oxford Cheetahs = 47
1 Troy Batchelor = 6+1
2 Kyle Newman = 5+1
3 Jack Thomas = 5
4 Cameron Heeps = 3
5 Scott Nicholls = 11
6 Dillon Ruml = 5+1
7 Dan Gilkes (G) = 12+1
Redcar “Agilia” Bears = 43
1 Charles Wright = 11
2 Adam Roynon = 8
3 Lewis Kerr = 6+1
4 Kasper Anderson R/R
5 Erik Riss = 11+1
6 Jason Edwards = 4+1
7 Jordan Jenkins = 3