Wednesday July 20, 2022
LEICESTER took another big step towards the National Development League play-offs with a battling 45-45 draw at Oxford on Wednesday.

Guest Ben Morley scored a brilliant 15-point maximum and skipper Joe Thompson came through for a vital third place in the decider as the Lion Cubs completed a comeback from six points down with five races remaining.

The result takes them two points clear at the top of the table, and with a further eight-point gap to the chasing pack, with Oxford limited to just one point from the meeting with the Cubs taking two.

The Cowley circuit was hit by a downpour at around 5pm but the Oxford promotion were always confident the track would take the water, and conditions were perfectly raceable at start time.

The early stages were nip and tuck with the Chargers’ 5-1 in Heat 2 being cancelled out by a super maximum from Max Perry and Thompson in Heat 4, to build on Morley’s opening race win over the strong Oxford opening combination.

Jordan Jenkins retired in Heat 1 but won Heat 6 with Atkins third to level the scores, and a further Oxford 4-2 followed in Heat 8 to put the home side ahead.

Vinnie Foord thankfully walked away from a heavy spill in Heat 9, but the Jenkins/Atkins pairing took a 5-1 in Heat 10 with Connor Coles coming to grief when chasing.

That put the Chargers 33-27 up but the Cubs fought back superbly with wins for Morley and Coles in the next two races whilst Perry took additional rides and supplied third place on both occasions.

With the gap at two points a 4-2 from Morley and Thompson in Heat 13, split by Jenkins, levelled the scores, before the Chargers edged back ahead with Perry importantly splitting Arran Butcher and Jody Scott for second place.

Morley competed his perfect night’s work by winning Heat 15 over Jenkins once more, with captain Thompson getting past Atkins for third spot to leave the Cubs far happier with the draw.

Boss Dave Howard said: “Whenever we go to away matches we’re looking to pick even one point, but to get a draw also takes two points away from Oxford as the home team, so it gives us a double boost for the play-offs.

“It was a great performance. With five heats to do we were wondering what might happen, but Max got two third places when he came in for the replacement rides, and then we got the 4-2s in Heats 13 and 15 with Ben winning and Joe picking up the vital third places.

“Ben was a superb guest with five rides and five wins, and for Max to get ten points from six rides was fantastic.

“But we’ve still got some work to do to secure our place in the play-offs, because there are six strong teams in this league.

“Our thanks to the supporters as well. There are certain fans who go to virtually every Cubs meeting, so it’s fantastic support and thanks very much to the fans who come out all the time to support the Cubs.”

Next up for the Lion Cubs is a trip to Berwick on Saturday to defend a 36-point lead in the second leg of their KO Cup semi-final.

OXFORD 45: Jordan Jenkins 10, Henry Atkins 8+1, Sam Hagon 7+1, Nathan Stoneman 6, Jody Scott 5+2, Arran Butcher 5+1, Jacob Clouting 4
LEICESTER 45: Ben Morley 15, Max Perry 10, Joe Thompson 9+1, Connor Coles 8, Tom Spencer 2+1, Mickie Simpson 1, Vinnie Foord 0
NDL points: Oxford 1 Leicester 2

Photo Credit: LES AUBREY

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