With the Warriors having to send a scratch team to Stoke to fulfil this oft postponed fixture, it was no real surprise that the Island side returned south pointless after a chaotic evening at the Loomer Road stadium last night (Friday).
The home side planned to run their 2 remaining home fixtures against Buxton and the Warriors back to back starting at 18:00, however, riders were delayed in traffic en-route and racing did not get under way until 18:20. With a 21:30 curfew in place there was little room for unexpected hold-ups.
It was clear from heat 1 that track conditions would make gating all important with soft and spongey areas on the inside of the circuit forcing riders to the best/only racing line tight up to the air fence.
So the Buxton meeting got under way and was going fairly smoothly until heat 8 when the Hitmen’s Shelby Rutherford fell heavily exiting bend 2.
His impact into the fence caused a complete power blackout to all areas of the stadium and his on-track treatment was administered by way of ambulance headlights, torches and mobile phone lights. A back injury was severe enough to warrant a call to summon the local Ambulance service with a subsequent trip to hospital and a half hour delay whilst he received essential medical attention.
Work to restore the lighting proceeded whilst the injured rider was treated and whilst a cheer greeted the restoration of power, an equally loud groan rang out when all the lighting went off again as the referee tested the red stop lights.
As further work on the power supply proceeded, it was agreed by all 3 team managers that both fixtures should be reduced to 10 heats so with lighting restored, Stoke proceeded to finish off the Hitmen 31-28 thus giving Stoke 3 league points and Buxton just 1.
Next up the Warriors; never easy going second in a double header meeting and so it proved as the Stoke riders with the advantage of knowing precise set-ups, hit the under-strength visitors hard from the off.
A further delay was encountered when Co-Promoter Martin Widman slipped and fell on uneven ground in the overspill pits area and received attention from the on-site paramedics. He suffered no serious injury other than a sore back.
10 down after only 4 heats, guests Ben Hopwood, Connor Coles and Chris Widman all gave it their best shot but with the home side gating slickly, there was to be no way back from the slow start. One bright spot was the performance of stand-in reserve Josh Embleton. Although only scoring a point, his tenacious approach bodes well for this young man – just a shame he lives 400 miles away from the Island.
As a result of these 2 meetings, the Warriors sink to the foot of the National League table and will enter last chance saloon at Mildenhall on Sunday afternoon.
Co-promoter Martin Widman, smiling through his discomfort, said:
“Given the side we had to track on Friday it was always going to be a tall order to get anything at Stoke but we know we have to re-group quickly and with our full septet of riders available we must deliver our best work of the season to beat the Fen Tigers and get an away win by at least seven points pushing Buxton down to the wooden spoon spot. If that were to happen it would be a remarkable end to our season”.
Stoke Potters 38 | Wightlink Warriors 22.