Sunday 21 April, 2013
STOKE Easy Rider Potters went down to a 48-41 defeat against the Buxton Hitmen in the first leg of their National League Challenge at Hi-Edge raceway on Sunday afternoon.

The Potters had drafted in former Hitman Robert Branford for Ben Reade who was rested after suffering a knee injury riding for Plymouth in their victory over Somerset on Saturday night.

Stoke started brightly with an opening heat 4-2 heat advantage from Branford and Lee Smart over Charles Wright and Tom Woolley before Buxton hit the Potters with two maximum heat wins and a 4-2 in the next three heats to open up a 16-8 lead after four heats.

Potters number one Smart steadied the ship taking victory in heat five over Ryan Blacklock and Adam McKinna for a drawn heat, but the Hitmen continued to pile on the pressure in heat six as Wright and Woolley added a further 5-1 over Emerson Jones who had replaced Kyle Hughes after he was disqualified for exceeding the two minutes time allowance and Shaun Tedham to extend the Hitmen’s lead to twelves points.

The Potters then showed their steel as Luke Priest and Luke Chessell combined for a 5-1 over Chris Widman and former Potters skipper Tony Atkin and this was followed by Branford and Jones gaining maximum points in heat eight over Woolley after referee Stuart Wilson disqualified Matt Williamson for dangerous riding after he sent Jones careering into the safety fence in what looked a nasty crash as they both raced down the home straight for the chequered flag as the Potters had fought back trailing by just four points after eight heats.

The Hitmen’s lead went back up to six points with a 4-2 from Wright and Woolley over Priest, but the Potters were not finished as Smart and Branford teamed up for maximum points in heat eleven over Widman and Atkin with the Potters trailing 34-32.

The Potters were up against it in heat twelve as Luke Chessell had to withdraw from the meeting with an arm injury leaving Shaun Tedham as the lone Potter and he finished second behind Williamson after his Hitmen partner Ryan Blacklock had fallen leaving it a 3-2 heat advantage for the Hitmen.

Wright got the better of Smart in heat thirteen with Atkin taking third for a Buxton 4-2 before the Potters returned the compliment in heat fourteen with Priest taking the chequered flag ahead of Widman with Tedham third after Adam McKinna had been disqualified for falling with the Potters trailing by just three points going into the final heat.

It was the Hitmen that took the spoils though as the impressive Charles Wright took victory from his partner McKinna with Smart third to complete a 48-41 victory over the Potters.

Easy Rider Potters team manager Malcolm Vasey said “We have to hit the ground running in meetings we cannot keep give teams a head start as we’ve done in our opening meetings. We pulled back well during the meeting but I was very disappointed with the opening heats of the meeting and we need to sort this out. Buxton is a very difficult place to come, it is a tricky track on what was a difficult day but it’s the same for both teams and there are no excuses. I felt the team did not have as much appetite as they did and after the opening heats we seemed to put that straight and I felt we came back quite strongly. Unfortunately we have picked up a couple of injuries which may have prevented us making it a little closer but the main thing we have to sort out is making sure we don’t start meetings as we did here today we have to start well and take meetings by the scruff of the neck and hopefully we’ll do that in the second leg on Saturday.”

BUXTON 48: Charles Wright 14, Adam McKinna 8+3, Chris Widman 7, Matt Williamson 6+1, Ryan Blacklock 5, Tom Woolley 4+1, Tony Atkin 4.
STOKE 41: Robert Branford 9+1, Lee Smart 9, Luke Priest 9, Shaun Tedham 4+1, Emerson Jones 4+1, Kyle Hughes 4, Luke Chessell 2+1.