Thursday July 09, 2009
SWINDON, the Elite League’s most winning side, were dealt a body-blow on a dramatic evening at an atmospheric Abbey Stadium as their 100 per cent home record crumbled to a lively Lakeside outfit, who replicated their Knock-Out Cup semi-final success of 11 June, on this occasion by a 47-43 score-line.

Thursday 9 July 2009
Sky Sports Elite League ‘B’

Leigh Adams (C) 3 2* 3 2 3 - - 13 (1)
Jurica Pavlic R/R
Simon Stead 1 1* 2 3 2 1 - 10 (1)
Travis McGowan 0 2 1 1 3 - - 7
Matej Zagar 2* D R - - - - 2 (1)
Paul Hurry D 1 1 - - - - 2
Ryan Fisher R 2 3 3 0 1* 0 9 (1)
Team manager: Alun Rossiter

Lee Richardson 1* 3 3 3 F - - 10 (1)
Kauko Nieminen 2 0 1 2* - - - 5 (1)
Adam Shields (C) 3 3 2 3 2 - - 13
Jonas Davidsson 2* 2* 0 2 - - - 6 (2)
Joonas Kylmakorpi D 1 2 1 - - - 4
Phil Morris 1 0 0 - - - - 1
Jason Lyons 3 1 3 0 1* - - 8 (1)
Team manager: Jon Cook
Referee: Dave Watters

Ht 1: Adams, Nieminen, Richardson, Fisher (ret), 64.83 (3-3)
Ht 2: (Re-Run) Lyons, Fisher, Morris, Hurry (disq, foul riding), 66.68 (5-7)
Ht 3: Shields, Davidsson, Stead, McGowan, 66.24 (6-12)
Ht 4: (Re-Run twice) Fisher, Zagar, Lyons, Kylmakorpi (f, disq), 66.74 (11-13)
Ht 5: (Re-Run) Richardson, McGowan, Stead, Nieminen (15 met), 65.96 (14-16)
Ht 6: Fisher, Adams, Kylmakorpi, Morris, 66.96 (19-17)
Ht 7: (Re-Run three times) Shields, Davidsson, Hurry, Zagar (f, disq), 66.12 (20-22)
Ht 8: (Re-Run) Lyons, Stead, Nieminen, Fisher, 66.49 (22-26)
Ht 9: Stead, Kylmakorpi, McGowan, Lyons, 65.59 (26-28)
Ht 10: Adams, Shields, McGowan, Davidsson, 65.46 (30-30)
Ht 11: Richardson, Nieminen, Hurry, Zagar (ret), 65.52 (31-35)
Ht 12: Shields, Stead, Fisher, Morris, 65.73 (34-38)
Ht 13: Richardson, Adams, Kylmakorpi, Zagar (ns), 66.05 (3 riders only) (36-42)
Ht 14: (Re-Run) McGowan, Davidsson, Lyons, Fisher, 67.55 (39-45)
Ht 15: (Nominated) Adams (r), Shields (g), Stead (b), Richardson (y; fell), 65.40 (43-47)

Programme changes:
Ht 1: R/R Fisher; Ht 6: R/R Fisher; Ht 8: R/R Stead; Ht 9: Lyons replaced Morris; Ht 10: R/R McGowan; Ht 14: Fisher replaced Hurry.

NOTE: Under the league scoring system introduced for 2009, Swindon gained 0 points and Lakeside received 3.

The defeat ended the Robins’ 9-match winning streak, as they failed to extend their 5-point cushion at the head of the Sky Sports table.

The side’s big punching top two of Leigh Adams and Matej Zagar enjoyed mixed fortunes, to say the least. Skipper Adams embroidered the encounter with dexterity, team riding of the highest order and an array of scintillating passing to notch a haul of 13+1 points.

For Zagar, however, it was an evening to forget. After starting with a paid win, he took a real purler on the pits bend next time out. That effectively ended his evening and, with it, Swindon’s chances of gleaning anything from the match.

Support for the ‘Sultan of Slide’ was supplied by Simon Stead, who laced the meeting with flamboyance in abundance to net 10+1 points. Meanwhile, colourful Californian Ryan Fisher produced a typically wholehearted performance to register a 9+1 tally.

The action started with a fine win from Adams but, with Fisher suffering carburettor problems, the visiting pairing of Kauko Nieminen and Lee Richardson were able to slot in for a comfortable points-share.

With Fisher mounted on Stead’s steed, hopes were high for the Robins in heat two as Paul Hurry returned to partner the American, having missed the previous two fixtures through injury. And things looked mightily promising as ‘Fish’ romped clear from the outside grid, whilst Hurry burst between the Lakeside duo on the back straight.

The race was to end moments later, though, as Jason Lyons’ machine became entangled with Hurry’s and was dragged into the pits bend, with the Hammers’ guest unceremoniously hitting the deck. The decision from race control was to exclude Hurry, although many supporters clearly didn’t see it that way, judging by the reaction on the terraces.

Although Fisher was in hot pursuit throughout, it was Lyons who took the re-run as Lakeside established an early advantage.

Adam Shields and Jonas Davidsson – so impressive in the Hammers’ KOC win at Blunsdon – carded a 5-1 in heat three, as a late burst from Stead only just failed to split them on the line.

The next race took three attempts to complete, having initially been called back due to an unsatisfactory start. In the first re-run, Zagar and Fisher were lapping-up the fresh air when Joonas Kylmakorpi tumbled on the fourth bend. That necessitated another re-start, in which the two home riders indulged in a spot of team riding – Zagar inside and Fisher outside – on their way to a fabulous ‘fiver’.

A tapes offence resulted in a 15-metre penalty for Nieminen in heat five, with Richardson subsequently demonstrating his considerable knowledge of the Swindon circuit to show a clean pair of heels to Travis McGowan and Stead.

Some superb team riding from Adams paved the way for Fisher to take the flag in heat six, as the Robins moved ahead for the first time in the match, at 19-17.

Following some rip-roaring, guitar-laden excellence from AC/DC over the tannoy, another unsatisfactory start was called in heat seven. The re-run saw Shields hook-up with Zagar on the first turn, sending both riders sprawling.

During the enforced delay while they dusted themselves down, Blunsdon rocked to the glorious sounds of the Manic Street Preachers. Then, with Shields away and Zagar chasing, the key moment of the meeting occurred, as the swashbuckling Slovenian appeared to hit a rut on the pits bend and flew alarmingly into the air, before clattering down heavily on to the hard track surface. In a flash, Hurry laid his bike down to limit the damage to his colleague and, albeit gingerly, a thankful Zagar was eventually able to walk back to the safety of the pits.

A third re-run finally brought the heat to an end, with Shields posting his second win of the night. Behind, a valiant effort saw Hurry twice trade places with Davidsson, before the Swede forged a route to link with his partner for their second 5-1 of the match, as the Hammers re-took the lead.

Yet another unsatisfactory start quickly ended the first running of heat eight, with Fisher leading into the back straight. As so often happens, he was left behind in the re-run, which saw Lyons produce a stunning ride to keep the omni-present Stead at bay. The Swindon No. 3 threw everything at the Aussie, but Lyons simply refused to yield. And, with Nieminen in third spot, Lakeside moved 26-22 ahead.

With tense faces on the terraces, a superb ride saw Stead blaze a trail to win heat nine from Kylmakorpi. Meanwhile, a point from McGowan reduced the Robins’ arrears to just 2 points.

The fast-starting Shields sped away to lead heat ten, but Adams stalked his compatriot beautifully before executing the perfect pass on lap two; the Swindon skipper drilling through on the inside to maintain his unbeaten record. In third place, another point from McGowan leveled the scores at 30 points apiece.

As Blunsdon held its collective breath, there was a big cheer when the battle-scarred Zagar – having received lengthy physiotherapy – emerged from the pits for heat eleven with just 30 seconds left of the allotted time allowance. Regrettably, having been badly bruised in his heat seven spill, the Slovenian was clearly in discomfort and limped around the track in last position, before pulling up after less than a lap.

Up front, Richardson and Nieminen romped to maximum points, as Lakeside took charge of proceedings.

Heat twelve was preceded by the playing of ‘Teenage Kicks’ by the Undertones – one of the most iconic pop anthems of all-time. The race initially provided a lovely vista, with Stead and Fisher holding sway out front. However, with a jaw-dropping turn of speed, Shields came steaming off the fourth bend to drive inside both Robins in front of the grandstand for an inspired win.

With Zagar ruled out of the meeting and Hurry struggling for breath following the rib injury he sustained at Eastbourne on 29 June, Swindon were only able to track one rider in heat thirteen.

Adams edged out Richardson in the early exchanges, but ‘Rico’ then came from nowhere and the end of lap one to return the compliment. With Adams unable to respond and Kylmakorpi unchallenged in third place, the Hammers stretched their lead to 6 points.

Yet another unsatisfactory start took the re-run count for the evening to nine, before McGowan won the penultimate heat ahead of Davidsson and Lyons. The Robins had looked set for a 5-1, but Fisher swung wide on the fourth bend of lap three, as any lingering hopes of claiming something from the meeting were extinguished.

Adams wrapped-up the evening’s activities with a well-crafted win over the excellent Shields, with Stead in third place throughout. At the back, Richardson lost control on the last lap and fell on the pits bend, although he was able to get up unscathed from the incident.

So, Swindon again came unstuck at the hands of a well-organized Hammers septet, but at least they had the consolation of retaining their 5-point margin at the top of the table, due to second-placed Wolverhampton suffering a 49-41 loss at Ipswich.

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