BELLE Vue’s hopes of qualifying for the National Development League Play Offs have all but been dashed after being handed their first home defeat in two years by the Leicester Lion Cubs.
A severely depleted Cool Running Colts side battled bravely against the reigning NDL Champions but were ultimately bested 41-49 on the night, and 80-100 on aggregate.
The result bumps the club down to third in the league table with one meeting to go at Berwick, but with their closest rivals having matches in hand the chances of making the top two are very slim.
The home team began their evening already without two of their hard-hitting regulars James Pearson and Sam Hagon, who were both on duty in the Championship league.
Extensive track work prior to Heat 1 then saw the start of the meeting slightly delayed due to water accumulating on the inside line which had failed to evaporate in the hot and humid conditions.
Once the action got underway, it was the Cubs who drew first blood to take an early lead, before the Cool Running Colts then lost Luke Muff after an awkward fall in Heat 4.
Down to five men, they pulled together as best they could and managed to prevent a comprehensive thumping and maintained a deficit margin of just 4 points going into Heat 13.
But an uncharacteristic fall from skipper Jack Smith saw him excluded from that race while Matt Marson was unable to land a blow against the Leicester heat leaders who stormed to a big 5-1.
Still with a chance to force a draw, the Cool Running Colts fought right to the end but ultimately were unable to recover in the final two races.
Smith topped the score charts with 14 points from six rides while Freddy Hodder followed up with 10 and guest racer Sam McGurk added 8+3.
Smith said: “This isn’t the way were hoping to finish our league meetings at home. We were set on getting the win and getting all three league points to continue our push for the play offs.
“Of course we’re disappointed. Last year, when it was the top four who went through, we just missed out by a point and now this year we’ve potentially missed out by an equally close number.
“But it just wasn’t to be for us. Certain circumstances were working against us, with missing Sam and James, and then losing Luke as well meant we were down to five riders after just four races.
“The rest of the boys really put in the effort, though, and there’s no taking that away from them. Everyone tried their best and we couldn’t have asked for more of them.”
The Cool Running Colts complete their 2023 NDL fixtures away at Berwick on Saturday, September 16 where they take a 61-29 aggregate lead.
Then, the ATPI Aces commence their Premiership Play Off semi-final against the Ipswich Witches on Monday, September 18, tapes up at 7:30pm.
Meeting tickets, race day programmes, hospitality and south stand parking are now available to pre-book online at bellevue-speedway.com/events.
RESULT – BELLE VUE V LEICESTER – FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 8 @ 7:30PM [NDL]
Belle Vue ‘Cool Running’ Colts 41: Jack Smith 14, Freddy Hodder 10, Sam McGurk 8+3, Matt Marson 7+2, Luke Muff 2, Jack Shimelt 0, James Pearson r/r
Leicester ‘Watling JCB’ Lion Cubs 49: Max Perry 12+1, Joe Thompson 11+2, Max James 9+3, Tom Spencer 7+1, Ben Morley 6, Vinnie Foord 2+1, Danny Phillips 2
Leicester Win 80-100 On Aggregate
Image: Ian Charles