Rebels hold onto their first leg advantage
PUBLISHED: 07:39 29 May 2006 | UPDATED: 09:21 24 May 2010
SOMERSET Mike Manning Audio Rebels eased into the second round of the Premier League Knockout Cup, defeating Stoke by nine points on aggregate over two legs.
SOMERSET Mike Manning Audio Rebels eased into the second round of the Premier League Knockout Cup, defeating Stoke by nine points on aggregate over two legs. Holding a 19-point advantage from the home match at the Oak Tree Arena on Friday night, Somerset rarely looking in trouble defending that lead when the teams met at Loomer Road the following evening.Utilising the rider replacement facility for Glen Phillips, who was absent from the team on World Longtrack Championship duty, the Rebels employed a game plan of never allowing the Potters to gain any sort of advantage on the night, and it was only in the final few heats that Stoke managed to eke out any appreciable advantage, but by then it was all too late as the Rebels were assured of their place in the second round.Superbly led by skipper Magnus Zetterstrom, who was a class apart and dropped only one point all night, each rider played his part in picking up valuable points to frustrate the Potters as they tried in vain to close the deficit, none more so than Somerset Number 6, Simon Walker, who made a lightening start in Heat 9 to lead his more experienced opponents for a heat victory that stalled any thoughts of a Stoke fightback. Experienced heads in the Somerset camp, Glenn Cunningham and Paul Fry, ensured that Stoke were unable to command any sort of foothold in the match by packing in for the minor places rather than go chase the heat win should an opposition rider get the lead at the start. A second place for Paul Fry in Heat 14 while on a tactical ride confirmed Somerset's place in the second round against Mildenhall at the end of June.In the first leg, the Rebels won 57-38, but despite the scoreline, they were made to work by a determined Stoke side before finally taking a 19-point lead. With the threat of rain always a possibility, Stoke's Mark Lemon showed he still knows the fastest way around the Oak Tree Arena in defeating Magnus Zetterstrom in the opening heat, but the Rebels reserve pairing of Barker and Walker scored the first of five home maximum heat advantages to give Somerset a lead they were never going to relinquish. Rain prior to the running of Heat 4 forced referee Dale Entwistle to call a halt to proceedings, but after a short delay the action recommenced, and by the half-way stage, Somerset had built up a 10-point lead, courtesy of two consecutive 5-1s in Heats 5 and 6. The home riders did not, however, have things their own way as the visitors more often than not made the better starts, but riding of the highest order by the Rebels usually saw them work themselves to the front as they gradually increased their lead as the meeting progressed.With the meeting now out of the Potter's reach, their sole aim was to restrict Somerset's margin of victory, and Stoke's Mark Lemon donned the black and white colours in Heat 12, a move that reaped some degree of success and the Aussie took his second race win of the night, but a further 5-1 by Barker, who had yet another top meeting, and Katt for the Rebels just further stretched the home advantage. Kessler took a tactical ride in Heat 14 and it looked at first as if the move had paid off as the German led round the opening bend. He did not, however, reckon on the determination of a rejuvenated Paul Fry who squeezed past through a gap on the outside as the pair headed down the back straight, Fryer then pulling away to take the chequered flag for the third time in the meeting.Despite potentially tricky track conditions, both teams put on a great display of racing, with some classic wheel to wheel action, none more so than in Heat 8 with Fryer and Moggo virtually locked together for the whole race, but overall the Rebels greater all-round strength ensured they carried a good lead into the second leg.Sunday's Premier League fixture away at Mildenhall ASL Freight Fen Tigers fell victim to heavy rain and a waterlogged track caused the early postponement. A date for the re-staging is yet to be arranged.