REPORT Thursday 30th April 2009, 10:00pm
Prior to last night's match Redcar looked likely winners of our group, and for the first half of the match nothing much happened to change that impression.
In truth we still weren't firing on all cylinders as we haven't in any of our away matches, though Thomas Jonasson and Michal Rajkowski were into their stride fairly quickly.
There were more machine problems for Ryan Fisher and Aaron Summers, the latter as at Workington taking half the match to get started.
Summers stopped at the gate in heat 1 leaving Fisher to give chase on Havelock, keeping fairly close but not looking like overtaking.
We dominated heat 2 with Sean Stoddart up alongside Rajkowski to put us ahead.
We had a false start in heat 3, Ben Wilson being the jerky one at the start though Thomas had forged ahead. We were badly away in the rerun with Andrew Tully trying to pass Ben Wilson. He went up high on the pits turn and switched to the inside on the next bend, but clipped Wilson as he came through.
He was out but Wilson stopped in the third running, leaving Thomas to gain a fine win after a passing duel with Carl Stonehewer.
Ty Proctor was expected to be a thorn in our flesh and he won heat 4 easily from Matthew Wethers, who didn't have much to spare over Bugeja. We were now 1 point up.
Ryan Fisher was smoothly away to win heat 5 after a tussle with Stoney but again Aaron Summers spluttered to a halt, this time after half a lap.
Bears' veteran opening pair scored a very easy 5-1 in heat 6, with Rajkowski chasing and Wethers looking out of sorts.
Thomas was doubly unlucky in heat 7. First he was 'conned' into the tapes by a jerk from Proctor, who moved first but didn't touch. He then went off 15 metres and soon caught Benji Compton, but as he was executing an outside overtake he was whacked off by Compton's swinging back wheel. Incredibly, Thomas was excluded.
At the third attempt Proctor won again but with Tully chasing impressively. Bears now led by 5 points.
At last Aaron came good to lead all the way from Kessler in heat 8, with Michal Rajkowski in third (replacement for Sean).
Sean was given his third ride in heat 9 and this was a pretty comfortable home 5-1 with Matthew again not gating well. He has a good record at the STMP but wasn't achieving much on this occasion.
As happened approximately a year ago when our league match was abandoned, a heavy shower then stopped the match. They have a new bar at Redcar so many people piled in there.
The rain passed and there was some grading to make the best of the situation.
It gradually became obvious that our riders were in a much better frame of mind than the home men to cope with the new conditions. Alex Harkess said "None of our riders even asked about the rain, they just wanted to know when they could get out there."
Thomas stormed off with heat 10 from Kessler, while Havelock pulled out when at the back. That reduced the gap to 5.
We missed a big chance in heat 11, as Proctor stalled at the gate, but within half a lap Fisher was out of the race too! Not only that but Benji Compton had leapt from the start and Aaron Summers could not get near him, conceding a 2-3. Maybe Compton should have shown some of his vet team mates how it was done.
The gap was back to six again but we greatly improved our chances as Rajkowski and Jonasson raced away from Stonehewer in heat 12.
Proctor was back in the groove to take heat 13 but Fisher and Wethers keps Havelock at the back fairly comfortably.
Two down with 2 heats left, and in heat 14 we had Andrew and the Raj. It looked good, and it was as they rode perfectly to easily beat Ben Wilson to the flag.
The match had completely turned round and we were now 2 ahead. Could we finish the job?
Tully had been impressive but wasn't eligible for the last race, Fisher was not at his best, Jonasson was an automatic choice and we went with Rajkowski as well after his sterling efforts. Bears took 2 and 4 but it was Michal who raced away from gate 1.
Thomas was at the back but cut under Kessler entering the pits turn, at the same time as Proctor tried an outside pass on Rajkowski. Ty spun off and was excluded, which meant we were all but there.
In the rerun our pair easily beat Kessler which meant that we had only missed out on a 4-point victory by a single point with a 47-41 win, and from heat 10 we had outscored the Bears by 24-11!
A great effort, though the night sadly will be most remembered for the passing of Michael Jonasson.