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Belle Vue Aces 46-46 Poole Pirates

The final meeting at Kirkmanshulme Lane didn't disappoint as the Belle Vue Aces reduced a 13 point deficit to draw with Poole Pirates
The final meeting at Kirkmanshulme Lane didn’t disappoint as the Belle Vue Aces reduced a 13 point deficit to draw with Poole Pirates


Belle Vue Aces and the Poole Pirates shared the spoils in a dramatic Elite League play-off final first leg at Kirkmanshulme Lane last night.

The Aces, who were 13 points behind the Pirates by Heat 13, managed to get themselves back into the tie, leaving it all to race for on Wednesday night at Wimborne Road.


Belle Vue Aces 46-46 Poole Pirates 

There’s an old saying in speedway that your reserve riders can be the difference between winning or losing a meeting, and Poole very nearly emulated that after their duo of Paul Starke and Kyle Newman earned a paid 24.

And the visitors dominated in the early proceedings, and after the Aces pair of Steve Worrall and Stefan Nielsen were both excluded in Heat 2, the Pirates ran out to a 5-0.

Successive 3-3’s followed, then Dave Watt, who came last in the opening heat, stormed to an impressive 5-1 with Starke in Heat 5, before Aces captain Scott Nicholls was placed back fifteen meters in Heat 6 for an infringement and Chris Holder, partnered with Maciej Janowski led the Pirates to another 5-1, giving them a 13 point advantage.

Matej Zagar then turned out for an Aces tactical ride, and despite the returning Dakota North battling with the Slovenian throughout the heat, he was unable to deny the Aces the chance to reduce the deficit to ten points after a 6-3 to the hosts.

Nicholls took Heat 8 with ease, before Watt and Starke continued their impressive display in Manchester by not allowing the hosts to reduce the deficit further.

The Pirates were on for a 4-2 in Heat 10 after an outstanding ride from Kyle Newman saw the youngster go round both Max Fricke and Worrall, but Peter Gomolski couldn’t hold on to his third place after colliding with the barrier. The heat was re-run, but Newman managed to continue his impressive display by winning the heat.

It wasn’t until Heat 10 that the Aces recorded their first conventional win. Craig Cook overtook Holder with the Aussie unsuspecting the move, allowing the Aces to close the gap to single figures.

The Aces looked set to record a 5-1 when Fricke and Zagar led in Heat 11, but North managed to find a way past Fricke, denying the hosts maximum points after Zagar romped to victory.

The Aces now found themselves closing the gap on the Pirates with just four heats remaining. But when Newman and Starke led to another Pirates victory in Heat 12, the gap had once again enlarged to ten points, leaving Mark Lemon’s side clutching at straws with time running out.

But further drama in Heat 13 when Cook and Zagar left the Pirates pair in their wake, earning the hosts their first 5-1 of the evening, thus reducing their disadvantage yet again.

Then in Heat 14, the Aces achieved their second consecutive 5-1 after Grajczonek picked up his first heat win ahead of captain Nicholls, who had successfully held off North in the closing stages.

The Pirates, who had blown an eight point lead at Brandon in the semi-final against Coventry, began to look nervy, having thrown away their comfortable 13 point lead to just two heading in to the final heat.

Cook and Zagar, who had been consistent throughout the meeting for the Aces, lined up for the hosts, with Aussie duo Holder and North lining up for the visitors. Cook made the gate with ease, but Holder held off Zagar, but despite his best efforts, the Pirates had squandered their earlier advantage to draw the meeting after the Aces earned themselves a 4-2.

Aces boss Mark Lemon was delighted with his sides determination to fight back, and he said; “Considering we were 13 points down after twelve heats, we’ve proved again just what we’re capable of delivering here at home, and the feeling in the team is very good because of it.

“We’ve got to just remain focused. We started off slowly and finished off strong but it’s not over yet. We’ve gone to Poole and drawn there before so there’s no reason why we can’t go there and win.”

Lemon added; “The boys put in amazing effort to fight back, and fight hard, in the manner that they did. It was great to have Matej [Zagar] back in the team and doing the job we know he’s capable of doing.”

BELLE VUE ACES 46: Matej Zagar 14+1, Craig Cook 12, Scott Nicholls 8+1, Josh Grajczonek 5, Max Fricke 4+2, Steve Worrall 2, Stefan Nielsen 1.

POOLE PIRATES 46: Chris Holder 10+1, Paul Starke 9+2, Kyle Newman 9+2, Dakota North 7, Davey Watt 5, Maciej Janowski 4+1, Kacper Gomolski 2+2.

Chris Holder Craig Cook Dakota North Kyle Newman Mark Lemon Matej Zagar Paul Starke Play-off Final

About Dale Ventham

Dale Ventham is an editor at The Sports Lowdown. He writes on the lower leagues of English football and Speedway in particular.

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