Friday 31 May, 2013
STOKE Easy-Rider Potters opened their National League campaign with a 56-39 defeat at newcomers Coventry Storm on Friday.

The Potters could provide only two race winners throughout the meeting as the home heat-leaders dominated on a tough night at Brandon.

Ben Reade and Luke Chessell were the two Stoke riders who did enjoy some success, their wins coming as the Potters looked to recover from a nightmare start to the meeting.

When Reade superbly rounded Robert Branford in Heat 12 to bank the full six points from a tactical ride, the visitors had an outside chance of salvaging a point as they had pegged Coventry to a nine-point lead.

But it was always going to take something special to stop either James Sarjeant or Joe Jacobs, and the home duo combined for 5-1s in Heats 13 and 15 to complete personal maximums and ensure a full haul of points for the their team.

Stoke got off to the worst-possible start when they conceded maximum points to Jacobs and Martin Knuckey in Heat 1, and the Storm took advantages in five of the first six races, including another 5-1 in Heat 5.

The Potters gained their first race advantage in Heat 8 when Storm newcomer Luke Crang crashed heavily, and Chessell held off Knuckey to win the re-run for a 4-2.

Kyle Hughes then took a tactical ride and appeared to be a facing a 5-1 reverse until he pulled off a fine outside pass on Brendan Johnson to pick up four points.

With the next two races also shared, Reade then raised the Stoke spirits by getting the better of Branford in Heat 12, again for double points, to leave the score at 43-34.

But Sarjeant and Jacobs pulled Coventry clear in the next, and Johnson’s win in Heat 14 ensured it would be a point-less evening for the Potters, for whom Reade was their top performer by a distance whilst recent signing Lee Payne also improved as the meeting went on.

Reade said: “It was a tough night for the team, a couple of us picked up a few points and we’re going to work on things, have a talk with each other and see how we can improve.

“Coventry have a strong team, they are all good riders, and we need to attack teams hard. We didn’t win tonight but that’s speedway. We have to progress our team performance and see what we can do next time.

“I enjoyed myself with my own performance, including a good win on a tactical, and I’m getting my confidence back now so hopefully I will end up how I raced last year.”

COVENTRY 56: James Sarjeant 15, Joe Jacobs 13+2, Brendan Johnson 9+1, Robert Branford 9, Martin Knuckey 5+1, Luke Crang 5+1, Tommy Fenwick 0.

STOKE 39: Ben Reade 12, Kyle Hughes 9, Lee Smart 5, Luke Chessell 4+1, Lee Payne 4+1, Luke Priest 3+3, Shaun Tedham 2.