Wednesday July 12, 2017
CRADLEY advanced to third place in the National League with a hard-fought 48-41 win over Plymouth at Perry Barr.

Will Pottingers’s side had to display plenty of character on their return to the circuit where they had been heavily beaten by Birmingham one week earlier – and where the Devils themselves had notched an away win last month.

The Heathens also needed to extract themselves from a tricky situation as they trailed 25-23 at the halfway stage after a shock Plymouth 5-1 in Heat 8, and the signs looked ominous.

But a dramatic 5-0 in the next race was followed shortly after by an inspirational ride by skipper Tom Perry, and the Devils in the end were denied even a consolation point.

Heathens led by four points after Heat 4 with Perry having defeated Adam Roynon in their first clash – and the margin would have been greater but for Plymouth’s Henry Atkins crashing out of Heat 3 when Dan Greenwood and Luke Harris held a 5-1 for the Heathens, only for Benji Compton to gate in the re-run and share the race.

The visitors remained in contention and trailed by two going into Heat 8, whereupon Richard Andrews produced a clear win ahead of a frantic scrap for second place which ended with Callum Walker rounding Shelby Rutherford off the final bend to put the Devils ahead.

But if the visitors had a major reprieve in the first running of Heat 9 when reserve William O’Keefe fell triggering a race stoppage just as Roynon hit mechanical trouble, the re-run saw the ex-Cradley favourite remarkably grind to a halt once more, allowing Harris and Greenwood to take an unchallenged 5-0.

With Joe Lawlor squeezed out of Heat 10, Heathens led by three points and the Devils looked strong in several later races – but Perry produced a sensational effort to go past Steve Boxall off turn four to win Heat 11, with Greenwood and Rutherford notching a key 4-2 in the next.

Roynon and Boxall looked set to respond for Plymouth in Heat 13 but Perry and guest Ben Morley both battled their way past Boxall for a 3-3 – and Conor Dwyer then flew from gate 2 in Heat 14 to secure the victory, with Harris holding Andrews at bay for third.

That left the visitors requiring an advantage in the last race for a league point, but those hopes went up in a shower of sparks from Compton’s bike as he chased Perry and Greenwood on the second lap behind race leader Roynon.

Perry said: “All of us really wanted it tonight. It was a tough meeting last week, to come here and lose by so many against Birmingham wasn’t good, but we’re definitely on our way now.

“We went for a chat after we went behind, we got our heads together and we said ‘if we want to make the play-offs, we have to sort it out’ and we did.

“The team scored well tonight and Conor got two good wins which was important, and it also made sure they didn’t get a point.

“It’s a good result for us. We know what we need to do, we just need more meetings now and we’ll be alright.”

Heathens are back in action at Belle Vue next Wednesday (July 19) before hosting Stoke at Monmore Green on Monday July 24.

CRADLEY 48: Tom Perry 13, Dan Greenwood 10+2, Ben Morley 8+1, Conor Dwyer 6, Luke Harris 5+1, Shelby Rutherford 4, Joe Lawlor 2+2.
PLYMOUTH 41: Adam Roynon 11, Benji Compton 9, Steve Boxall 8, Richard Andrews 5, Callum Walker 4+2, Henry Atkins 4+2, William O’Keefe 0.


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