REPORT Friday 6th May 2022, 11:14pm
The Stellar Devils battled hard but on a track made tricky by quite a bit of earlier rain, they were eventually outgunned by Oxford and went down 42-48.
For the Devils, there were improved performances from their backup riders Josh Embleton and the Millar brothers, especially Gregor Miller who bagged 9.
Gregor's elder brother Lewis said "At one point we were really close to winning it, then we lost another 5-1 and it was out of our grasp again. But some of us are starting to score points again, and getting our confidence back. There's definitely posiitives to take and this is what this whole thing is all about, bringing on the younger riders. We're definitely getting there, it just takes time."
There was so much going on it was hard to remember everything. There were a number of fallers (though no serious injuries), and at times both teams seemed to be trying to throw away points. There were also some exceptionally good heats.
None of the Armadale heat leaders were at their best, though in the end Tom Woolley scored well enough. In Gregor Millar's best display to date, he won heat 2, then passed both visitors in a heat 7 5-1 with William Lawson. Heat 9 might have been his most impressive ride as he passed Stoneman, but locked up and ran into mechanical gremlins.
Gregor was involved in another two 5-1s as the teams swapped maximum advantages over the closing stages.
In the end the deciding factor was the Oxford spearhead of Jordan Jenkins and Nathan Stoneman, both unbeaten on the night. Jenkins was head and shoulders above everyone else in the meeting, whereas Stoneman had to battle for his points and seemed on the verge of defeat more than once, but his steady riding always brought him out on top.
Several of the best heats involved Stoneman. He had an amazing four lap battle with William Lawson in heat 4, passing and repassing, but just edged it in the end. He seemed sure to drop a point when Danny Phillips led heat 6, but the Devils' no. 1 then fell, and he took a win against Gregor Millar when the home man pulled up.
Of course the contribution of Chargers' guest Ace Pijper was crucial, which even this early in Ace's career is not a great surprise. He fell when on a 5-1 with Jenkins in heat one but bounced back to be unbeaten in his next three races. Ace will qualify for a new average in five days time, well above the newcomer's 3.00 he is on at the moment, but too late to prevent him having a big influence on this match.
It was a deserved win for the new side, who had team managers Peter Schroek and Jason Crump both in attendance and very much enjoying themselves.