National League Knockout Cup final first leg
King’s Lynn Young Stars 43 Cradley Heathens 47
The Young Stars were agonisingly denied in a final heat decider at the Norfolk Arena on Wednesday night.
The scores were locked at 42-42 going into Heat 15 and it was looking good for Lynn when skipper James Cockle and guest Simon Lambert surged into the lead.
But Nathan Greaves and Max Clegg, the latter notching a paid maximum, passed them to turn a 5-1 into a 1-5 and steal victory.
It was cruel on the Fusion Clothing Young Stars as the Heathens – who have been beaten just once in the league – managed maximum 5-1 race wins in the final two outings to show why they are odds-on for the cup and title double.
In the early part of the tie Cradley twice shortly followed a home 5-1 victory with a maximum of their own. The visitors did this in Heats 3 and 5 after Lynn had fired in 5-1s in the opening outing and Heat 4.
Lynn were never behind in this Norfolk Arena season-closing meeting until that final heat, and they edged 25-23 in front thanks to rider replacement Lambert – believed to be riding his 100th meeting of the season – winning Heat 8.
The hosts led 32-28 going into the interval.
Team manager Dale Allitt said: “I felt our team rode fantastically well. They gave everything they had, from number one to number seven.
“The future’s good. We’ve just signed Ryan Kinsley, who has just turned 16, and Josh Bailey – he’ll be back next year.
“The only disappointing thing is the crowd of 280 which isn’t good for a cup final.”
Lynn: Simon Lambert (g) 11+1, Darren Mallett R/R, Tom Stokes 7+1, Marc Owen 2+1, James Cockle (capt) 14, Josh Bailey 1+1, Scott Campos 8+1.
Cradley: Danny Halsey 6+1, Nathan Greaves 11, Max Clegg 13+2, Tom Perry 7, Paul Starke 4, Matt Williamson 3, Danny Phillips 3+1.