REPORT: Poole Pirates v Plymouth Gladiators


Pirates were always fearful of a Gladiators assault, given the Devon's side solid form this season, but few would have expected it taking six heats before the Pirates could celebrate a race winner in this league encounter.

Skipper Danny King was the first rider home in heat six, holding off opposition captain Hans Andersen, who, along with guest Kyle Howarth (heat one), Ben Morley (heat two), Michael Palm-Toft (three and five), had already picked up a race victory when he had taken advantage of Richard Lawson leaving too much inside space in heat four.
But then came big-time drama when Lawson, having swept casually by Howarth in heat seven went about trying to reel in Palm-Toft. As the riders went through turn three and into the fourth, less track room was becoming available for the Dane and he took a dramatic trip into the fence, bouncing back on the track and rolling several yards towards the start and finish line. He sustained a shoulder injury in the fall, the cause of which was deemed to lay at Lawson's door, much to the denial of the Cumbrian who was adamant that Palm-Toft was getting out of shape even before he went under him. 
Lone Pirate Drew Kemp worked hard in the re-start, taking up the advantage with a good move around the first turn, but Howarth showed all his experience to fight back and his victory put Plymouth eight points up,
The Pirates felt further aggrieved when heat eight was called back after plenty of movement at the start. Both Kemp and Zach Cook had hit the first turn clear of Alfie Bowtell, who was warned for being the main protagonist of that early movement, and Morley. As so often happens, once the race got underway a second time it was Bowtell who made the cleanest get-away and led throughout. Cook tried to pinch the lead from him on the third lap but locked up. In doing so, it proved costly for him as Morley seized the chance to pass. Kemp though saved some of the blushes as he darted by Morley on the final lap, limiting the visitors to a 4-2, but they were now holding a double figure lead!
For the second successive home meeting Poole were obliged to use the tactical substitute option, Richard Lawson coming in to replace Ben Cook and partnered up with Steve Worrall for a much needed 5-1, although he had to be on full-alert as Andersen was always ready to pounce given half a chance. 
Howarth made it four unbeaten rides when he won heat ten from King and Zach Cook and after having sat out his second ride, Lawson was on a mission in heat eleven. He ruthlessly went by Bowtell on the first lap much to the annoyance of the youngster, and then produced a golden moment to pass Andersen on the final circuit, keeping the meeting very much alive, but few could predict the drama that was still left to unfold.
Worrall couldn't make any impression on Howarth in heat twelve and with Morley beating Nathan Ablitt the Gladiators consolidated their lead further. Danny King made all the running in heat thirteen but Lawson was unable to put second placed Andersen under any real pressure, but the resulting 4-2 closed the deficit to four points.
Bowtell led throughout heat fourteen, until however, the very last turn and then Kemp and Ben Cook both homed in on him. All three riders flashed across the finish with nothing much to choose between them, the Poole fans relieved, and shocked, when the result was declared as a 5-1. Live-stream evidence suggested that Cook hadn't quite done enough but the referee did not have the benefit of that footage. 
On level scores, the Pirates, who had trailed since heat three, had a chance to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat, but those hopes were dashed when Danny King fell at the first turn, earning a disqualification, so any chance of a league point rested fully on Lawson producing something special and win the re-run, which would mean he had to get the better of Andersen and Howarth.
Still angered by his early disqualification he was totally focussed on the mission and amazingly saved the day, despite losing his steel-shoe en-route to one of the most vital race wins of the season, leaving Neil Middleditch claiming, "to be honest this felt like a win, even though it was only a draw."

D.King 2,3,2,3,FD=10 (5)
Z.Cook 1',1,0,1'=3+2 (4)
S.Worrall 0,2,3,2=7 (4)
B.Cook 1,0,TS,2=3 (3)
R.Lawson 2,XD,2',3,1,3=11+1 (6)
D.Kemp 2,2,2,1,3=10 (5)
N.Ablitt 1',0,RS,0=1+1 (3)
A.Bowtell 0,1,3,X0,0,1'=5+1 (6)
K.Howarth 3,2',3,3,3,1'=15+2 (6)
M.Palm-Toft 3,3,FN,NS,NS=6 (2)
H.Andersen 3,2,1,2,2,2=12 (6)
B.Morley 3,1,RS,1,1,RS,0,1,0=7 (7)
H.McGurk 0,RS,0,RS,0,NS=0 (3)
Ht 1:  K.Howarth, D.King, Z.Cook, A.Bowtell 3-3 3-3 [60]
Ht 2:  B.Morley, D.Kemp, N.Ablitt, H.McGurk 3-3 6-6 [61.59]
Ht 3:  M.Palm-Toft, K.Howarth, B.Cook, S.Worrall 1-5 7-11 [59.79]
Ht 4:  H.Andersen, R.Lawson, B.Morley, N.Ablitt 2-4 9-15 [60.53]
Ht 5:  M.Palm-Toft, S.Worrall, A.Bowtell, B.Cook 2-4 11-19 [59.47]
Ht 6:  D.King, H.Andersen, Z.Cook, H.McGurk 4-2 15-21 [60.22]
Ht 7:  K.Howarth, D.Kemp, B.Morley, R.Lawson 2-4 17-25 [61.21]
Ht 8:  A.Bowtell, D.Kemp, B.Morley, Z.Cook 2-4 19-29 [62]
Ht 9:  S.Worrall, R.Lawson, H.Andersen, H.McGurk, B.Cook [Tac Subbed] 5-1 24-30 [61.43]
Ht 10:  K.Howarth, D.King, Z.Cook, B.Morley, M.Palm-Toft [NS] 3-3 27-33 [61]
Ht 11:  R.Lawson, H.Andersen, D.Kemp, A.Bowtell [exc] 4-2 31-35 [61.84]
Ht 12:  K.Howarth, S.Worrall, B.Morley, N.Ablitt 2-4 33-39 [61.41]
Ht 13:  D.King, H.Andersen, R.Lawson, A.Bowtell 4-2 37-41 [61.22]
Ht 14:  D.Kemp, B.Cook, A.Bowtell, B.Morley, M.Palm-Toft [NS], M.Palm-Toft [NS] 5-1 42-42 [60.28]
Ht 15:  R.Lawson, H.Andersen, K.Howarth, D.King [fell exc] 3-3 45-45 [61.88]
REFEREE:  Paul Carrington [Gary Allen] 
POOLE won toss and chose gates 1&3 | PLYMOUTH choose gates 1&3 in heat 15  
League Points: POOLE 1 PLYMOUTH 2

Pictures: Anthony Burchall

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