Monday October 02, 2017
SWINDON boss Alun Rossiter insists his side can still become SGB Premiership champions – despite a shock first leg 43-47 defeat against Wolverhampton at the Abbey.

The Carpets4Less Robins paid the price for a nightmare first half to Monday’s meeting in which they went 12 points down to fast-gating visiting side.

A late rally saw the hosts cut the gap back to four over the last six races, which at least brought the tie back within range ahead of Wednesday’s second leg at Monmore Green.

It was not a night for things to go wrong, but six of Swindon’s seven riders suffered at least one race where they failed to score – and even skipper Jason Doyle was on the wrong end of a 5-1 reverse in Heat 6.

The initial signs were promising as a forceful ride from guest Liam Carr took him past Mark Riss in Heat 2 to give the Robins an early lead.

But Wolves hit back with their own 4-2 in Heat 3, Tobiasz Musielak splitting Rory Schlein and Kyle Howarth, and with the visitors ahead from the gate again in the next race Nick Morris came down on turn two, with a 5-1 going Wolves’ way in the re-run.

Musielak ground to a halt in Heat 5 when set for a 4-2 with David Bellego, and Wolves then pulled off two hugely damaging 5-1s, first from Riss and Sam Masters over Doyle in Heat 6, and then through Schlein and guest Chris Harris over Morris in the next.

That left Swindon 15-27 down and with a mountain to climb, with wins for Howarth and Sam Masters in the next two races preventing them from making any inroads into the deficit.

Schlein, unbeaten from his first two rides, was relegated to the back in Heat 10 with Doyle and Adam Ellis carding a 4-2, and Morris got his night going with a fine ride to hold off Harris in the next.

Robins enjoyed a major stroke of fortune in Heat 12 when Riss crashed out whilst on a 5-1 with Schlein, but the Wolves skipper came from third to first in the re-run with Musielak mounted on Morris’s machine after his earlier troubles.

The Swindon top two of Doyle and Morris finally got the 5-1 the big crowd had been waiting for when they raced clear of Harris and Masters in Heat 13, but Wolves ensured a first leg lead when Schlein and Nathan Greaves packed in behind Bellego in the next.

Robins urgently needed another advantage from the final race of the night, but this time they had to be content with a 4-2 as Masters split Morris and Doyle, leaving the margin at four points.

Rossiter said: “From being twelve points down to getting it back to four, I still believe the tie is wide open.

“I’m not going to take the shine off our opponents, they adapted to conditions better than we did. It was very difficult to come from the back, but it was the same for both teams.

“I certainly don’t feel it’s all over – if it had stayed at twelve points it probably would have been, but we do have a sniff now. Four points is nothing, and we have everything to go for.

“The spirit changed in the last few races, the boys got fired up and wanted to do it. They still believe – I’ve spoken to them all after the meeting, and nobody feels it’s over yet. We all know it’s going to be tough at Wolverhampton, but anything can happen.”

SWINDON 43: Jason Doyle 11, Nick Morris 9+1, David Bellego 7+1, Tobiasz Musielak 6, Bradley Wilson-Dean 4+1, Liam Carr 4, Adam Ellis 2+1.
WOLVERHAMPTON 47: Sam Masters 12+1, Rory Schlein 11, Chris Harris 9+1, Kyle Howarth 7+3, Mark Riss 5, Nathan Greaves 3+2, Jacob Thorssell r/r.

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