National League KO Cup semi-final 1st leg
King’s Lynn Young Stars 39 Cradley Heathens 51
Stebbings Car Superstore Young Stars boss Dale Allitt is struggling to get his team fit for Sunday’s league meeting after two riders withdrew on Wednesday.
Lynn also face a mountain to climb in the second leg after Josh Bailey and Layne Cupitt were injured at the Adrian Flux Arena.
The Young Stars will travel to Cradley’s Perry Barr track next Wednesday needing to overhaul the Heathens and pull back the 12-point deficit if they are to make it into the final against Eastbourne.
Ryan Kinsley top-scored with a superb 17+1 points from seven rides. The two sides traded 5-1 maximums in the meeting opening, Lynn replying via reserves Kinsley and Cupitt.
Lynn were already without heat leader Jake Knight, who misses the rest of the season with a broken nose, and the hosts operated rider replacement. Cradley took advantage as number one Max Clegg and Matt Williamson both scored paid maximums.
Following an unsatisfactory start, Heat 4 was awarded when Bailey fell on the outside in second spot and Tyler Govier laid down the bike at the end of lap two, stretching Cradley’s lead to four.
With Govier coming in on a reserve switch for away guest Jack Parkinson-Blackburn, the recent-winner of the 500c British Youth Championship, home skipper Scott Campos’s bike failed on the pit turn of the second bend and he went into the fence.
It meant Heat 6 was awarded and Campos sustained a shoulder injury.
Heat 8 saw the turning-point. Bailey sped into the fourth bend and caused Aaron Mogridge to crash, resulting in an exclusion, while Cupitt laid down.
Kinsley came in for Cupitt, who along with Bailey played no further part, and won the three-man re-run.
Kinsley and Hazelden replied with a maximum 5-1 race victory in Heat 12 but the Heathens twice more recorded maximums in Heats 13 and 15.
Such was Lynn’s injury situation that they had to use number eight rider Adam Portwood in one race.
Senior Stars skipper Rory Schlein – helping in the home pits – fellow Elite League rider Lewis Kerr and club asset Lewis Rose were all in attendance on the night.
After the meeting Allitt said: “We are disappointed with the result, but considering we were reduced to four riders, the guys did well to keep us in the meeting.
“We hope Josh and Layne will be okay, Scott picked up an injury to his shoulder, so that will need to be monitored over the next few days.
“I can’t fault the effort the team have put in.
“Track conditions were far from how we would have liked it, but it is the same for both sides.
“Their top two were just too strong for us in the final stages of the meeting, until Heat 13 there was just four points in it.”
Allitt’s side are next in action on Sunday when they travel to Stoke’s Loomer Road for their penultimate National League fixture.
Young Stars: Tom Stokes 5, Scott Campos 7, rider replacement for Jake Knight, Shane Hazelden 6+2, Josh Bailey 2 (withdrew), Layne Cupitt 2+1 (withdrew), Ryan Kinsley 17+1, (No. 8) Adam Portwood 0.
Cradley Heathens: Max Clegg 14+1, R/R for Nathan Greaves, Darryl Ritchings (Guest) 5+1, Arron Mogridge 12+1, Matt Williamson 14+1, Jack Parkinson-Blackburn (G) 4+1, Tyler Govier 2.