Battling Bears downed by Cheetahs!
Redcar’s play-off hopes were officially ended as the “Agilia” Bears were defeated 53-37 by Oxford at Sandy Lane. With Redcar struggling for heat winners in the early stages and gates 1 & 3 proving to be much stronger, the Bears fell to defeat in Oxfordshire.
Lewis Kerr hit 13 for Oxford and Scott Nicholls struck a 4 ride maximum whilst Redcar’s guest, Leon Flint hit an impressive 11 for the Bears. The Redcar management can also point to the fact that rider replacement (the only available facility) gained 2 points, a figure Connor Bailey surely would have improved on.
Oxford opened proceedings with a 4-2 as Sam Masters took the win but Danny King passed Cameron Heeps towards the end of lap 1. However, Heeps was not done as he gained ground on King but the Bears number 1 held on to ensure Redcar did not concede a maximum 5-1.
Jason Edwards made a superb gate to win heat 2 and Luke Harrison demonstrated the progress he is making as a rider as he defeated the highly regarded Ashton Boughen for 3rd to immediately level proceedings at Cowley. Heat 3 saw the ex Bears duo of Lewi Kerr & Jordan Jenkins take a relatively comfortable 5-1 heat advantage as Leon Flint & Danyon Hume struggled from the gate.
The championship chasing Cheetahs then extended their lead to six with a heat four 4-2 as Nicholls won despite Redcar guest Justin Sedgmen looking a real threat in 2nd, and with Boughen repaying the favour to Harrison from heat 2 to secure 3rd, Oxford were in command.
The Cheetahs then took a 20-10 lead as Kerr once again won whilst his teammate Jenkins rode a superb race to pass Edwards and King to secure another 5-1 for Oxford. The hard working Edwards was out again in heat 6 as he surprised the home support by gating well and cruising around the outside of Masters on bend 2 but the Oxford number 1 repaid the compliment on bend 4 to take the win, but with Sedgmen behind Edwards for 3rd, Redcar showed fight to stem the Oxford charge.
Heat 8 saw Heeps come to the party for the Cheetahs as he cut between both Bears on the backstraight of lap 1 to take the win despite Flint’s best efforts but once again, with an Oxford man (Boughen) at the rear, the gap remained at 10.
The battling Bears then struck back in heat 9 as tactical substitute King and his partner Sedgmen team rode to hold off the previously undefeated pair of Kerr and Jenkins to reduce the gap to 6 and bring Redcar back into contention.
Heat 10 saw drama as Flint took an impressive win ahead of Masters with all the action happening behind the Team GB man as Hume battled into second until the exciting Bears man found himself stuck on the slower inside line and was thus relegated to the back. However, after Flint took the chequered flag, Masters took issue with Hume’s move on bend 2 with both camps exchanging words at the pit gate.
Nicholls continued his perfect night as he won heat 11 despite Danny King’s best efforts, and with the ever improving Henry Atkins in 3rd, the Cheetahs edged closer to victory at 37-29. After a shared heat 12 won by Kerr, Oxford put the meeting to bed with a heat thirteen 5-1 as Nicholls and Masters combined for a 5-1 and a 45-33 lead.
Heat 14 saw Jenkins take the win to end an impressive evening’s work for the former Bear, and with his partner Atkins in 2nd, the Cheetahs lead was extended to 16. Heat 15 saw Jenkins out again but this time the Bears pairing of King and Flint found themselves on a 5-1 until Jenkins came to grief on the opening bend of lap 3 with the referee electing for a re-run, presumably due to the close nature of the race. The re-run saw Kerr take the win to seal a 16 point home win for the Cheetahs.
For the Bears, it was a performance full of grit and effort with some riders not being rewarded for their performance. Ultimately, Redcar will now focus on building momentum against Glasgow on Wednesday before the KO Cup takes priority with the carrot of a place in the final if they can overcome Scunthorpe.
Oxford Cheetahs = 53 (100)
1. Sam Masters = 10+1
2. Cameron Heeps = 5+1
3. Lewis Kerr = 13
4. Jordan Jenkins = 7+2
5. Scott Nicholls = 12
6. Henry Atkins = 5+1
7. Ashton Boughen = 1
Redcar Bears = 37 (80)
1. Danny King = 10+1
2. Connor Bailey R/R
3. Danyon Hume = 2+2
4. Leon Flint (G) = 11
5. Justin Sedgmen (G) = 5+2
6. Jason Edwards = 7
7. Luke Harrison (G) = 2+1