BELLE VUE COLTS 56 – 34 RYE HOUSE RAIDERS
Friday evening saw the Belle Vue Colts bouncing right back after the disappointment of going out of the Knockout Cup last week at the hands of the Birmingham Brummies, with the Colts returning to National League racing and helped their cause for a playoff place thanks to a 56-34 thrashing of the Rye House Raiders at the National Speedway Stadium.
The previous meeting between the sides was down in Hoddesdon saw the Manchester side edging a tight 46-44 victory on the road early on in the season and so with the return fixture up North, it saw the hosts controlling the meeting with the Raiders riders struggling to get to grips with the fast track and saw only Rob Branford, Ben Morley and Luke Priest making any type of impression for the visitors.
Australian youngster Rob Branford opened the meeting with a bang in the first race, with the Adelaide rider making a stunning start from the gate and had Ben Wilson, who was guesting for the Colts in place of Daniel Bewley who on duty for his Premier side the Edibnurgh Monarchs, leaving the Sheffield man trailing far behind in second for a shared heat. Andy Mellish took the race win in Heat 2 with fellow Belle Vue reserve Joe Lawlor having to battle his way into third, after he finally made a pass on Macauley Leek to grab a point.
Matt Williamson made the gate in Heat 3 for the Colts as he got ahead of Luke Priest and saw the Rye House man trying everything to put pressure on the ‘Man in Orange,’ but his challenge would come to nothing. Lee Payne then had a tough little race with Ben Morley for the lead, after the Colts man moved Morley out wide and then led the race with the Rye House man closing him down the whole race, but Payne knew where to ride and held him off.
With that win it saw Lee Payne breaking the track record in National League racing with a time of 62.2 and the record lasted for one race, as Rob Branford collected a big win over Williamson to see him clocking 62.0 exactly and saw the score 18-12 in favour of the home side. Ben Morley then stormed to a win in Heat 6 and saw his team mate Connor Locke unable to get in the scoring and saw another shared heat and their inability to pick up points in the minor places was the Raiders downfall in the match.
From Heat 7 onwards the Colts began to then may inroads on the Rye House side and started the run of seven heat advantages in the final 8 races of the meeting. A good good race saw Lee Payne coming hard around the outside of Luke Priest to see him taking the lead in Heat 7, while Joe Lawlor passed Sam Woods to grab third position for another 4-2 advantage for the Colts. Heat 8 saw a nasty crash involving Macauley Leek and Andy Mellish tangling as the came to the first bend and saw Matt Saul having to lay his bike down to avoid crashing into the pair of them, but in doing so the bike slid into the path of riders he was avoiding and saw a stoppage.
After a bit of a delay with the medical staff checking out both Leek and Mellish on the track, it saw them walking back to the pits with a smile and slightly banged up. Mellish who has only just returned recently to action after sustaining a broken hip against Eastbourne earlier on in the season, saw Joe Lawlor replacing him in the re-run and him and Tom Woolley combined for a 5-1 to the home side and saw them opening up a 12 point lead with half the meeting gone.
Williamson made a superb move around the outside of Ben Morley in Heat 9 for the Colts as they looked on course for a 4-2 victory with Rob Shuttleworth looking sure of third position, but then a strange incident saw Shuttleworth sliding off on his own towards the air fence and that let Connor Locke in for an unlikely point. Ben Wilson and Tom Woolley made a good gate for the hosts in Heat 10, with Woolley blocking the run of Luke Priest for the Raiders who looked unsure on whether to try the inside or outside and in the end the Colts man did enough to seal another maximum heat advantage for the home team.
Heat 11 saw Lee Payne and Rob Branford having a fantastic battle out in front and saw Rye House’s Branford trying to dive for a gap that wasn’t there and clipped the wheel of Payne who stayed on his bike and from then on it was all Payne as the Raiders man lost his speed. Meanwhile, Andy Mellish rode in his first ride back after the nasty spill in Heat 8 and him getting the better of Matt Saul for a third place finish.
The Raiders top duo then scored a 5-1 for the visitors in Heat 13, thanks to a great gate by Rob Branford from the tapes and with a three-way battle down the back straight between Ben Morley and the Belle Vue pair of Lee Payne and Matt Williamson, it saw the Rye House rider coming out ahead and blocked out the challenge of Payne to secure the maximum win for the away side. Belle Vue then responded with their own 5-1 in the following race, with Shuttleworth and Lawlor miles ahead of their two opposing riders and saw them giving the Colts a 20-point lead going into the final race of the night.
With the meeting over as a contest, the final race of the night however was an absolute corker with all four riders involved in one the best races in the National League at the NSS this season. Belle Vue’s Matt Williamson made the initial gate and saw his team mate Lee Payne moved out towards the air fence and as they entered the 2nd lap of the lap of the race it saw Branford coming up the inside of Williamson to take the lead and would then see the Colts man retaking it back a lap later with a similar move. Payne then tried to come around the outside of Branford on start of the final lap for second place, but he was shoved a bit wide by the Raiders man and was subsequently relegated to the back, that was until a burst of speed down the back straight saw him passing Morley and just held third as they came to the line.