The Wightlink Islanders headed north to Stoke on Saturday intent on clinching the first major title to be decided in this year’s National League in their final away National Trophy fixture.
Already operating the rider-replacement regulations to cover for the injured Danny Stoneman, they also lost the services of both Tom Young and Brandon Freemantle after they had completed just three rides each in a match that saw both sides battling intensely for every point on offer.
Young was withdrawn from procedings suffering from slight concussion and other, thought to be minor, injuries after his second fall of the match in heat 9 whilst Freemantle didn’t make the start of heat 11 after earlier taking a tumble in heat 4 and finishing last in heat 8.
Given all that, the Wightlink Islanders came remarkably close to pulling off what would have been a truly remarkable victory on the night only to be thwarted by the home pairing of Lee Smart and Luke Priest taking a last heat maximum heat win for the Potters to leave the final score of the full-blooded encounter at:
Stoke 45 WIGHTLINK ISLANDERS 44
Stoke: Luke Priest 12+1, Lee Smart 12, Lee Payne 8, Kyle Hughes 6+1, Ben Reade 4+1, Luke Chessell 2+1, Shaun Tedham 1+1.
WIGHTLINK ISLANDERS: Adam Ellis 16, Darryl Ritchings 11+2, Tom Perry 9+1, Ben Hopwood 7+3, Brandon Freemantle 1, Tom Young 0.
Whilst Stoke picked up two Trophy points for winning the match the scoring system of the competition is such that, as the Wightlink Islanders as the away side lost out by less than six points over the fifteen heat match, they also gain one Trophy point for themselves and that point means that they cannot now be caught at the head of the Trophy table as can be seen below…
2013 NATIONAL TROPHY TABLE
P W D L For Agst PTS
ISLE OF WIGHT 7 5 0 2 360 256 19
Mildenhall 7 5 0 2 328 315 14
Stoke 4 2 0 2 171 198 5
Buxton 6 1 1 4 247 304 4
Kent 4 0 1 3 151 184 2
Photo: Ian Groves