Words: Hayley Bormley
Images: MEN Media
The National League Knock Out Cup arrives in Manchester this Friday, with Belle Vue set to face historic rivals Cradley in their bid to reach the semi-finals; where Mildenhall await their challenge.
The team was awarded a ‘walkover’ victory in their first-round bout with Lakeside after the Vortex Hammers pulled out, leaving the Cool Running Colts to progress through to the quarter-finals.
Having so far dominated their home track at the National Speedway Stadium, they are targeting a clean-sweep of victories at the National Speedway Stadium having been so far undefeated there.
But they will have to do it without two of their key figures, Dan Bewley and Lee Payne, who both remain benched due to injury. Local lad Ben Hopwood steps in at No.1 to cover to Bewley.
Rider Replacement will take effect for Payne at No.3, as well as for Motor Market Heathens captain Tom Perry who was injured in Monday night’s Premiership double-header at Wolverhampton.
Also suffering from injury problems, the visitors bring in Liam Carr to cover for the high-flying Danny Ayres while Paul Bowen is back in the saddle covering for the absent reserve Tyler Govier.
Anticipating an interesting evening, Colts No.6 Andy Mellish said: “We’ve always nurtured a healthy rivalry with the Cradley Heathens, and we’ve had some great meetings against them this season.
“I think we can expect much of the same on Friday. Injuries have played their part on both sides but the quality of the guests doesn’t discredit the level of competition we know we will face.
“We’re really looking forward to it. All the lads are proud of the home record we’ve forged for ourselves and if possible, we want to try and maintain it; but we will need to work hard to do so.
“It would be another feather in our cap to progress into the KOC semi-finals but if nothing else, we should at least be looking at this two-legged qualifier as practice for the imminent play-offs.”
Also gearing up for their potential penultimate clash of the season are senior Aces Craig Cook and Max Fricke, who will feature in the Premiership Riders’ Championship on September 16.
Tickets for this play off warm-up are available online now at www.bellevueaces.co and at the ticket office on race night.
BELLE VUE V CRADLEY – 7:30PM – FRIDAY SEPTEMBER 8 [TPT KOC]
Belle Vue ‘Cool Running’ Colts
Ben Hopwood (G), Kyle Bickley, Lee Payne R/R, Rob Shuttleworth (C), Jack Smith, Andy Mellish; TM: Graham Goodwin & Steve Williams
Cradley ‘Motor Market’ Heathens
Liam Carr (G), Luke Harris, Joe Lawlor, Richard Hall (C), Tom Perry R/R, Connor Dwyer, Paul Bowen (G); TM: Will Pottinger