Newcastle Diamonds revisited the scene of a good few hammerings over the seasons last night when they took on Sheffield Tigers in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final.
The fast, wide open spaces of Owlerton’s track don’t always suit the more technical riding styles exhibited by Newcastle’s regular septet, although Stuart Robson got his teeth stuck into Sheffield’s guest Richard Lawson of Workington in heat one, battling hard for third place with the Tyneside star taking the point in a shared 3-3 behind his partner Christian Henry. Damien Koppe soared to an easy heat two win for the home side, but behind, his team mate Facu Albin shot round Chris Schramm and almost got the better of Lewis Kerr too in the home 4-2.
Ludvig Lindgren ended up stuck at the rear and slowed visibly to the end of heat three as Ricky Wells took second place, passing Andrew Tully midway through lap one to hit an early home maximum past the Diamonds to extend the Tigers’ lead to 12-6.
Tigers’ Adam Roynon hit engine trouble in the fourth as Richie Worrall and Kerr had no trouble in keeping Albin restricted to third in a Diamonds’ maximum to narrow it to 13-11.
Wells comfortably took heat five but Robson hit hard on the last lap to just pip Richard Hall on the finish line in the 4-2, while in the sixth Worrall romped to his second win of the night with Schramm succumbing to the powerful thrusts from behind from Lawson, but held out Joe Haines to the line in the Newcastle 2-4 taking the score to 19-17. Roynon’s bike failed to play up again in heat seven as he shot away for a big win, but joy for Newcastle came as Lindgren found his way round Koppe on the second lap with Tully at the rear in the 4-2 that pushed Sheffield further ahead 23-19.
Kerr made a fine effort of heat eight to take the three points as Haines halted the Henry charge, holding onto second himself after Henry had whizzed past Albin in an away 2-4 again reducing the deficit to only two points.
A third Worrall win in a shared heat nine was followed in heat 10 by an exclusion for Lindgren who picked up drive on the third bend to fall, and following the medics treating the Swede on the track he got up and walked back to the pits seemingly unharmed.
The re-run provided an untroubled 5-1 for Lawson and Haines over Tully as Sheffield went six up, 33-27, but that was instantly reduced back to two points with a solid Henry/Robson 1-5 over Roynon who went from first to third in half a lap in the 11th.
Kerr just lost his second place on the finish line to Albin who had been jostling for position throughout heat 12, won by Wells in a home 4-2 easing the gap back up to four with the score 38-34 with three races left, the first two of which were home-won shares at 3-3 each with the score at 44-40 with one race to go.
A Diamonds’ 1-5 would have drawn the first leg, and it was down to Worrall and Robson to hold off Wells and Hall in heat 15, but it was Hall who hit the early drive and took the win, but the Diamonds’ duo kept Wells tucked away at the rear for a shared 3-3 finalising the match at 47-43.
Team manager George English said: “This was another good performance at Sheffield and we have to be satisfied with the effort put in. There were some good points scored by our lads tonight and it obviously puts us in a good shape for Sunday’s second leg, but again we’re not counting chickens till the last heat is run.”
The decisive leg takes place at Brough Park on Sunday at 6.30pm, while the Diamonds travel to the Scunthorpe Scorpions tonight in the Premier League.
SHEFFIELD: Richard Lawson (guest) 8, Joe Haines 7+1, Ricky Wells 9+2, Richard Hall 12, Adam Roynon 4, Damien Koppe 4, Facundo Albin 3.
NEWCASTLE: Stuart Robson 9+2, Christian Henry 6, Andrew Tully 2, Ludvig Lindgren 3+1, Richie Worrall 11+2, Chris Schramm 3+1, Lewis Kerr 9+1.
SCUNTHORPE: Josh Auty, Thomas Jï¿½rgensen, Michael Palm Toft, Ashley Birks, David Howe (captain), Ryan Douglas, Lewis Blackbird.
NEWCASTLE: Stuart Robson (captain), Christian Henry, Andrew Tully, Ludvig Lindgren, Richie Worrall, Chris Schramm, Lewis Kerr