SWINDON Robins did what was needed to remain in the hunt for Elite League’s top spot with a 55-38 victory over Lakeside last night, in a meeting dominated by the referee’s red button.
Troy Batchelor and Simon Stead top scored with 13 and 12+3 respectively to move the Robins to within two points of leaders Poole, while former Swindon number one Scott Nicholls’ 19-point haul was the only real bright spot for the depleted visitors.
But eight heats were re-run during the course of the disjointed evening, with the majority coming as eagle-eyed referee Dave Watters spotted a succession of riders moving at the start.
But when the meeting was allowed to flow the two sides produced some excellent racing, with Batchelor and captain Hans Andersen both enjoying spectacular battles against Hammers guest Nicholls.
Dane Peter Kildemand was forced to withdraw from the meeting after landing on his head after being knocked off by Ryan Fisher in heat five, but Robins boss Alun Rossiter was pleased with the way the rest of his riders stepped up to fill his shoes.
“Losing Peter was a big blow for us, but the other riders stepped up and did their jobs,” he said.
“Pulling him out was a bit of a precaution although he was a bit dazed too, and there is no point taking any chances and we want him to be fit for the play-offs and Birmingham on Wednesday.
“Steady and Troy scored well, and Hans ran a last in heat 15 which wasn’t great, but earlier in the night he looked quick which is a good sign for us.”
“The meeting dragged on and it was a bit crazy, and I think we need to start using a bit of discretion because it spoiled it for some of the young riders who were going to have a bit of a race after the meeting, which was cancelled.”
Andersen eased from the tapes to the flag in heat one with Nick Morris in third, and from then on the Robins never let their hold on the meeting slip.
Dawid Lampart went off 15metres after touching the tapes at the start of heat two, but Stead muscled out Justin Sedgmen and Robert Mear to take victory after a tough first corner.
Both Fisher and Jason Doyle hit the deck coming out of turn two in heat three, and after the former Robin was excluded, Doyle picked himself up once again to follow Kildemand to a 5-1 in the re-run.
Yet another restart followed in heat four as the riders were asked to stay still at the tapes, and in the re-run Nicholls and Batchelor did battle for four laps as the Swindon man made use of the outside line, but the former Robins number one eventually battled past for the win. Fisher was excluded again after taking out Kildemand’s front wheel coming out of turn two of heat five, with the Dane going over his handlebars before hitting the deck and requiting treatment. Stead came out in the re-run in his place, but over-locked in the first bend as Davey Watt eased to victory.
Old enemies Andersen and Nicholls went head to head in heat six, and after Nicholls cut back well to lead at the end of the first lap, the Dane hunted him down and used the inside white line to pass him for the win.
Batchelor and Stead showed their team riding skills to secure a 5-1 in the next race as they covered both the inside and outside lines, before Nicholls came out in black and white to narrow the gap for the home side after Morris shed a chain after over-cooking turn two on lap two.
The red lights were on once again as Sedgmen was warned for moving at the start, but despite being out-trapped by Doyle, Nicholls stormed to another heat win as he stayed patient in turn one to pass Doyle on the inside.
Fisher made the start in the 10th race of the night but was passed on the back straight by both Morris and Andersen for a 5-1, and Batchelor beat Watt in the following heat to extend the home lead to 13.
Fisher was on a tactical ride when he went flying into the fence before all four riders were called back again for heat 12, and he didn’t get a sniff of either Lampart or Stead as the Robins storming to another 5-1.
Andersen had to go from 15-metres after receiving his second warning for moving at the start, but Batchelor ensured it didn’t cost the Robins as he won heat 13, with Andersen piping Watt on the line for third Stead easily won heat 14 to cap an impressive night, before Nicholls completed his 19-point haul at his former home as he won heat 15.