A&T clinch tense Division 2 playoff to secure the treble.
Astley and Tyldesley edged out Fife Revolutions in a hard-fought
Division 2 playoff. Fife Revolution, the defending champions, faced
Astley and Tyldesley who were looking to complete the treble of league
championships. Both matches between the two clubs this season had been
close affairs, each decided by nail-biting final heats.
Everything had been done to make the title decider fair. Northumbria
Vikings’ Cramlington track was chosen as the neutral venue and Edinburgh
Falcon’s Ewan Tulloch was called in as referee. The stage was set for a
classic England Vs Scotland encounter.
After a nervy start from both teams in the opening heats, Fife increased
their lead to five points in Heat 4 with the Lewis Allsop and Craig
Hardie pairing. Fife held on to the lead until the half time break.
Team Green regrouped in the interval and their two top riders of Matt
Snell and Emily Burgess lined up for Heat 7. Snell got away from the
inside grid leaving Burgess to battle it out with Fife’s Harris Allsop
and Vas Hill. Burgess took the inside causing the two Fife riders to
clash. The referee was forced to stop the race and exclude Hill. The
race was restarted with no inside Fife rider, allowing Snell and Burgess
to sprint away to a 7-2 win. The match was back to level points.
The next four heats were even, and so for the third time this season the
match went down to a nail-biting final heat decider. There had been
nothing between the two teams in all season. Whichever team won the heat
would win the championship - the pressure was on the four riders.
Both Craig Hardie and Matt Snell moved on the gate - noise from the
adjacent football match had put the riders off, so all four riders lined
up for the restart. The tapes went up again and A&T’s Snell was quickest
off the gate ahead of Fife’s Hardie. It was looking like another 5 all
heat before Hardie summoned a burst of speed on the final lap to attempt
a do-or-die undertake. There was no room - Snell held his line and
Hardie ended up on the centre green. Hardie’s frustration was clear to
see and led to him being excluded. A&T won the championship decider by a
slender three point margin.
The match definitely lived up to expectations with all riders giving it
their all. A&T’s youngster Matt Snell was highest scorer with 23 points;
a fantastic achievement in his first season back in cycle speedway after
a break. Astley and Tyldesley end the season as treble winners, adding
the North and Scotland Division 2 title to the Division 1 and 3
Championships already in their 2019 trophy cabinet.
Fife will no doubt be disappointed that they couldn’t hold on to their
first-half lead. But there is plenty for their riders to be proud of –
three top 3 finishes for a club that’s only been competing for three
years is some achievement. They will be out to regain their crown next
Matt Snell: 23; Emily Burgess: 12; Mark Grantham: 10; Mick Knowles: 7;
John White: 6; Lee Philips: 2; Charlie Burgess: DNR.
Fife Revolutions 57
Craig Hardie: 15; Vas Hill: 14; Lewis Allsop: 13; Harris Allsop: 12;
Harry Langdale: 3; Victor Hill: DNR; Jake Ferguson: DNR; Kayden
Referee – Ewan Tulloch (Edinburgh)