Flying reserve Dan Greenwood struck a sensational paid maximum to give Dudley the upper hand in their National League play-off semi-final tie against the Isle of Wight, writes Rich Jones.
The 20-year-old went unbeaten by an opposing rider in five rides as the Heathens stormed to a 59-31 first leg victory in front of a bumper crowd at Monmore Green.
After a shaky start, the former Cradley club launched a big surge – recording five 5-1s in the final nine races to build up their lead for the return at Smallbrook next Tuesday.
Following a win in his opening ride, Greenwood was involved in four Heathens maximums as he enjoyed the best night of his career so far.
He helped snuff out Isle of Wight tactical rides on two occasions – getting the better of former Heathens favourites Tom Perry and Danny Stoneman in heats 11 and 12 respectively.
Up against close friend Perry, Greenwood held his nerve in fine style to beat the Islanders’ No.1 to the line – although Perry was later disqualified from the race for crossing the inside track boundary.
It was a rough night for Perry as he returned to his parent club with Dudley largely outclassing their opponents.
Although it was Greenwood who starred in the reserve berth, the entire top five also performed strongly.
Skipper Ashley Morris suffered just one defeat as he continued his wonderful form – triumphing over the excellent Steve Worrall in a closely-fought heat 15.
No.1 Paul Starke also battled to make double figures while Lewis Blackbird overcame bike problems to add a useful nine points.
In-form youngster Max Clegg celebrated becoming a club asset prior to the meeting by adding 7+2 from the tough No.4 position including a paid win in his opening ride and a race victory in heat 14.
Gareth Isherwood bounced back from a tough start to end his night by going unbeaten in his final two rides as Dudley displayed their brilliant best over the second half of the meeting.
Teenage ace Nathan Greaves suffered another frustrating evening at reserve – but with the rest of the side in fine form, the side still cruised to a comprehensive win.
The result gives team boss Will Pottinger’s men the upper hand in their tie as they aim to make their second consecutive National League grand final.
It also gives them a timely confidence boost as they prepare to travel to King’s Lynn tonight where they carry a 22-point lead to their KO Cup semi-final second leg.
Dudley: Ashley Morris 14, Dan Greenwood 11+4, Paul Starke 11, Lewis Blackbird 9, Max Clegg 7+2, Gareth Isherwood 6+2, Nathan Greaves 1+1.
Isle of Wight: Steve Worrall 16, Darryl Ritchings 6, Danny Stoneman 4+1, Tom Perry 3, Chris Widman 2+1, Brendan Johnson 0, Ben Hopwood R/R.