Belle Vue go into the second leg of their Knock Out Cup clash with Swindon eleven points down after a prolonged evening at the Abbey Stadium left the Mancunians with work to do at the NSS.
Already without Craig Cook, after the skipper withdrew at the eleventh hour, the Rentruck Aces were cut to just five men after only two heats following a nasty spill for the in-form Jack Smith.
Whisked off to hospital with a gnarly injury to his fingers, racing suffered a lengthy delay while the track ambulance ferried Smith to hospital only to be held up by road closures upon its return.
The action resumed with the Robins in command, yet despite their depleted side Belle Vue presented a much stronger challenge than their hosts anticipated; down just 6 points after Heat 8.
And despite facing the daunting task of recovering such a hefty deficit at home, team boss could only praise his remaining riders for the grit and determination they continued to display all night.
He said: “The boys showed a lot of commitment tonight despite the circumstances, and even though they were considerably under power they never let the high-flying Robins get away.
“As the track settled down they began to establish that edge on us but to be honest, I think an 11-point deficit is more than an achievable margin to claw back on the return leg at home.
“Our focus in the meantime has to be on the play offs though and unfortunately it looks like we’ll be facing them without Jack Smith; It was purely a racing incident with no one to blame.
“After colliding with Bradley Wilson-Dean, his index finger on his left hand was sliced open to the point where the bone was sticking out and Jack, understandably was in quite a lot of pain.
“He of course took no further part in the meeting, bringing us down to just five guys who had to contend with several mechanical issues but who never gave up no matter how tough things got.”
September 16 brings the Premiership Riders’ Individual to Manchester, and on September 18 Wolverhampton head to Belle Vue for Leg 1 of semi-final two in this year’s league championship.
Words: Hayley Bromley,Images: Ian Charles
Tickets for both these mouth-watering fixtures, and the second leg of this Knock Out Cup clash are available online at www.bellevueaces.co and at the stadium ticket office on race night.