Belle Vue missed out on the chance of some early-season silverware on Thursday night after a challenging 52-38 all-out battle with the Swindon Robins ended just 8 points short of a trophy.
The Rentruck Aces took a 6-point lead into the Premiership Charity Shield second leg at the Abbey Stadium, which they extended for a short time with an advantageous 2-4 in Heat 1.
But the reigning league champions were fervent in their determination to make a successful start to their home campaign and set about narrowing the deficit, which they quashed three heats later.
The visitors then went on the offensive to prevent their hosts from running away with the meeting, only to be dealt a further blow in Heat 7 when Damian Dróżdż withdrew after crashing out.
It left Belle Vue with much to do in the closing stages of the evening but as has become typical of the northerners they rallied to their cause, greatly reducing the gap with just three races left.
It was a tough night at the office but team boss Mark Lemon left Wiltshire feeling quite satisfied with his side’s performance, stating: “Swindon are always strong at home so full credit to them.
“It was a frustrating night for our boys. I can’t say I’m disappointed because the score doesn’t reflect the effort. We’re two meetings into a long season and there’s a lot more to come from us.
“Losing Damian early on put a little more pressure on the rest than we would’ve liked. He had a nasty spill in his second ride and came down heavily on his left shoulder, and he had to withdraw.
“Initial thoughts were that he may have broken his collarbone but after being examined it appears to be more muscular. He goes back to poland on Friday where he will get the necessary treatment.
“But even despite this, the boys never once dropped their heads and I think that’s testament to the character of this team. The boys remained optimistic right to the end and I couldn’t ask for more.”
There’s more speedway action at the National Speedway Stadium this week with Belle Vue’s 90th Anniversary Celebration, featuring the Peter Craven Memorial, at 6pm on March 24.
In addition to the main meeting, a smorgasbord of other motorcycling disciplines will take to the track for a wide array of demonstration laps to honour the club’s landmark 90th year at the tapes.
Tickets are available now via the club’s official website at www.bellevueaces.co.
Words: Hayley Bromley,Images: Eddie Garvey