REPORT Saturday 19th June 2021, 7:59pm
After a match of contrasting fortunes with both teams holding the lead at some point, and never more than 4 points in it until after the final heat, the Stellar Devils were happy to get over the line with a 48-42 victory over Belle Vue Colts in the National Development League.
Devils' team boss Alan Budzynski said "I was delighted to get the win against a good team such as Belle Vue. I was pleased that our second strings are starting to put together some good rides, I have said previously that all it needed was patience. The whole team worked together well in the pits."
Belle Vue lost their captain Ben Woodhull in a first bend, first heat tumble, so they deserved their point. Woodhull later emerged with his arm in a sling but still encouraging his team mates.
Nathan Greaves was completely dominant throughout the afternoon, as befits a rider who is scoring solidly in the Championship at the moment, and he helped Devils to an opening 4-2 . The next three heats were all shared with visiting riders Benji Compton and Harry McGurk (twice) taking the chequered flag.
A heat 5 win by Danny Phillips over Colts' no. 1 Parkinson-Blackburn produced another 4-2, with assistance from George Rothery, who was feeling his way back to confidence after a series off falls in recent meetings.
Benji Compton looked to be on his way to another win in heat 7, but the heat was stopped just before the finish after Lewis Millar charged under Paul Bowen, allegedly causing the Colt to fall. Surprisingly the referee called for a rerun, and this time Tom Woolley got the better of a great tussle with Compton.
The score was now 23-19 but the Colts hit right back with a 5-1 from Bowen (injury rider replacement for Woodhull) and McGurk. Coles won heat 9 in another rerun race after Phillips had initially led, which maybe was payback for Woolley's win in heat 7.
Sheldon Davies had maybe his best ride to date in heat 10 when he almost held off Bowen for a 5-1 with Greaves, just losing out in the latter stages. Colts were unlucky here as Benji Compton missed the heat while receiving treatment for a wrist injury.
The track staff were working hard to keep the dust down, always a problem on a sunny afternoon, but also trying to avoid making the track too tricky. Tom Woolley was caught out in heat 11 which he led until his wobble caused Parkinson-Blackburn to lay down, leading to Woolley's exclusion. The Colts took a 5-1 in the rerun and went ahead for the first time in the match.
It looked as though it could go either way, but as it turned out all the last four heats finished 4-2 to the Devils. Benji Compton was back in the fray for heat 12 but he was beaten by Phillips and a spirited third place from the back by Gregor Millar over McGurk completed the 4-2.
Same result in heat 13 with Greaves dominant as ever but Connor Coles pulling off a good pass on Woolley, who ran into difficulties and just held on to the point ahead of Parkinson-Blackburn.
Heat 14 looked as though it could go either way but it proved to be a return to form by George Rothery who led all the way, plus an excellent third from the back by Gregor Millar against Bowen.
So it was a 4-point lead for Devils and with Greaves in the final heat, victory seemed assured. Phillips held second for a while but eventually lost it to Coles, which was enough to ensure that the Belle Vue Colts got a point. No-one was going to begrudge them that.
It was announced post-meeting that the Armadale Devils will be making a team change with Sheldon Davies moving out. Alan Budzynski commented "Sheldon is a trier and I'd like to thank him for his persistence and support. He needs to work a bit on his speed and maybe we were asking a little too much of him. Although people say this league is not about results, it isn't fair on the heat leaders to be asking them to take so much of the load. We wish Sheldon all the luck in his future career."
Sheldon's replacement will be announced tomorrow.