Wednesday April 08, 2015
CRADLEY prevailed in a tense last heat decider to get their National League title defence off to a winning start with a 47-43 victory over Coventry Storm at Perry Barr.

Skipper Max Clegg raced clear in a nervy heat 15 to ensure the Heathens emerged from a fiercely contested local derby with three points.

There was drama and action aplenty throughout the meeting; none more so than in the final race as Ellis Perks initially fell on the opening bend before taking down Storm No.1 Luke Crang on the final lap of the rerun as he battled for third.

However, it was Clegg who took the chequered flag in a shared heat which was enough to see the Heathens secure a hard-fought victory despite an exclusion for Perks.

Clegg impressed throughout despite facing a tough test against Coventry’s heat-leaders, although he did miss out in the Golden Helmet match race against former Heathens favourite Dan Greenwood.

Influential reserve Perks against top scored with a spectacular showing in the lower order, whilst Matt Williamson bagged two important race wins in the engine room of the side.

Nathan Greaves battled through the pain barrier with his fractured hand to add a solid contribution, although he was involved in a spectacular spill on the opening bend of heat 13 alongside Clegg and Greenwood.

Team boss Will Pottinger was also quick to praise the contributions of Michael Neale, Arron Mogridge and Luke Harris as his side came out on top in a tight encounter thanks to a gutsy all-around team effort.

Said Pottinger: “Coventry pushed us all the way, fair play to them for that, but it was important for us to get the win and it was a good team effort.

“We managed to just got over the line in what was a tough meeting which was good, and we have come away with three points which is the main thing.

“Ellis (Perks) and Max (Clegg) both did very well, but it’s not just about them – in such a tight meeting it was the points that were scored by the likes of Mikey (Neale), Arron (Mogridge) and Luke (Harris) which made the difference.

“We are delighted to have come away with the win and get our title defence off to the perfect start.”

Cradley will be back in action in two weeks’ time as they welcome National League newcomers Eastbourne to Perry Barr for another mouth-watering encounter on April 22 (7.30).

CRADLEY 47: Ellis Perks 14, Max Clegg 11, Matt Williamson 9, Nathan Greaves 6+1, Michael Neale 3+2, Arron Mogridge 2+1, Luke Harris 2+1

COVENTRY 43: Dan Greenwood 13, Luke Crang 12+2, Darryl Ritchings 8, Rob Shuttleworth 5+3, Martin Knuckey 2, Stefan Farnaby 2, Conor Dwyer 1+1

Dan Greenwood (Coventry) beat Max Clegg (Cradley)

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