Cradley Heathens suffer first defeat of the season
Cradley slipped to their first defeat of the season in a dramatic encounter with old rivals Mildenhall at Monmore Green, writes Rich Jones.
After an encouraging start to the campaign, the Motor Market Heathens had been hoping for a dream return to their adopted Wolverhampton base.
But they were on the wrong side of a tight 46-43 scoreline in their first meeting at the track in 2017.
Will Pottinger's side were made to pay the price for a number of costly errors by a strong Mildenhall team, who were led impeccably by star guest Dan Bewley.
The teenage pocket rocket went untroubled from five rides to see the visitors over the line and ensure the Heathens could never claw back the points they threw away in the first half of the meeting.
Their nightmare spell began when Dan Greenwood spectacularly lifted and hit the fence on the opening bend of heat three, allowing Mildenhall to draw
And when Danny Ayres slid off on the opening bend of an eventful heat seven it gave the visitors a slender lead.
All of the Heathens side had their moments and chipped in with solid points, but they lacked consistency throughout.
Greenwood struggled to recover from his opening ride crash, and although he bounced back to comfortably win heat nine he could not find a way past the sensational team riding of Jon Armstrong and Jordan Jenkins in a breathless heat 12 which saw the visitors establish a five-point advantage.
Cradley reserve Joe Lawlor pulled off a smart move to slice underneath Sam Woods and join partner Ryan Burton at the front for a 5-1 in heat two.
Yet he was unable to see off Jordan Jenkins in a thrilling heat eight battle as his partner, Conor Dwyer, took the chequered flag after failing to score in his opening two outings.
Top two Tom Perry and Ayres were solid but were no match for the imperious Bewley, while former Heathens' favourite Armstrong roared clear of Perry in heat 10 to put his side back ahead.
It was Armstrong's wonderful ride to shepherd home youngster Jenkins in heat 12 which left the writing on the wall for the Heathens.
And although the impressive Luke Harris bravely blasted around the outside to fend off Jenkins in the penultimate race to set up a last heat decider, Bewley held his nerve to wrap up the win.
After a night to forget on home shale, Will Pottinger's troops will look to regroup ahead of a tough trip to Mildenhall on Saturday, April 29.
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