SWINDON Robins recovered from a disastrous start to secure what could prove to be a vital away point at Belle Vue this evening.
Captain Troy Batchelor led the way for the Robins as he managed 17 from five rides, including a tactical victory, which ensured an off night for Peter Kildemand (two) wasn’t too heavily punished.
Aussie duo Nick Morris and Dakota North scored 6+1 and six, while reserve Steve Worrall managed 8+1, as the Aces top three of Matej Zagar, Craig Cook and Scott Nicholls scored 28 between them to take victory for the home side.
Kildemand shed a chain on the start line of heat one before neither of the two Robins reserves finished heat two, giving the hosts a 10-1 lead, but the visitors chipped away and eventually secured a losing bonus point in touch conditions.
Things could have been even more positive for the visitors as at one stage narrowed the gap to two points but, needed a 5-1 in the last heat to secure a 46-46 draw, the pairing of Batchelor and North could only manage a 3-3.
The point from the 48-44 defeat, coupled with Eastbourne’s 56-35 loss at Poole, means the Robins lead the Eagles by nine points, with the poor-travelling Arlington side needing to work wonders in double headers at Coventry and Belle Vue to catch the Robins and strip them of a play-off spot.
The meeting got off to the worst possible start for Swindon as Kildemand shed a chain on the line and retired, leaving Zagar to coast round and lead guest Max Fricke round for a 5-1.
Things got worse in the first reserves heat as Nathan Greaves was excluded for knocking Oliver Greenwood off, before Worrall fell alone on two occasions before the race was eventually stopped and awarded.
With the Robins 10-1 down, Batchelor took a shared heat three as the visitors established a base before Morris rode a hard race to eventually pass Richie Worrall for a victory which Steve Worrall backed up in third for Swindon’s first heat advantage.
Morris’s pass on Worrall angered the Belle Vue man and he approached the Aussie in the pits, but the home side’s attention soon returned to the track as Cook and Zagar combined for a maximum which extended their lead to 11 points.
That forced Rossiter into using his first tactical ride on Batchelor, who went off the inside and rode a really tough first corner to send Nicholls wide and take six vital points. Kildemand initially sat second, but was beaten by Nicholls.
North produced a superb last corner move to beat Lee Payne to secure a 4-2 in heat seven, but found himself in the fence after the race as he had to take evasive action to avoid Fricke and his bike, after the Aussie had mindlessly left it standing there after falling at the start of the final lap.
The Robins comeback was checked as Nicholls and Richie Worrall took an easy 5-1 after Morris fell in turn one of heat eight, before Steve Worrall picked up his first win of the evening in the second reserves encounter to claim a 4-2 with Greaves in third.
Batchelor maintained his perfect record as he gated to victory in heat 11, with Gustafsson joining the party to back him up for a maximum, but the Robins’ progress was again wiped out as Nicholls and Cook combined for their second maximum of the evening to restore the lead to six.
Heat 12 was shared, as Morris couldn’t quite pass Fricke, before Zagar coasted to victory in heat 13 with Batchelor second following a good first corner move on Cook and Kildemand at the back.
Steve Worrall took Nathan Greaves’ final ride and made the perfect jump to lead North home for a 5-1, beating his brother Richie home in the process, leaving the Robins needing a 5-1 from the last heat to snatch the draw.
They couldn’t quite manage it, with North at the back, but captain Batchelor did cross the line first to ensure he finished on 17 and that his team claimed the losing bonus point.
ACES: Matej Zagar (3-2’-1-3) 9+1; Max Fricke G (2’-R-0-3) 5+1; Scott Nicholls (2-2-2’-3-1’) 10+2; Richie Worrall (2-0-3-1) 6; Craig Cook (1’-3-2’-1-2) 9+2; Oliver Greenwood G (3-0-2-0) 5; Lee Payne (2’-2-0-0) 4+1.
ROBINS: Peter Kildemand (R-1-1-0) 2; Nick Morris (1-3-R-2) 6; Simon Gustafsson (0-0-1-2’) 3+1; Dakota North (1-3-R-2’-0) 6+1; Troy Batchelor (3-6^-3-2-3) 17; Nathan Greaves (X-1-1) 2; Steve Worrall (F-1-3-1’-3) 8+1.