Old boys combine to end Bullets’ perfect record

Published on 21st May 2023
Author George Dodds
Josh in big trouble. Picture: Keith Hamblin

GHT BULLETS, POWERED BY STS 38

WORKINGTON COMETS 48

All good things must come to an end, 13 proving the unlucky number at which the Bullets’ perfect home league and play-off record stalled.

Workington’s contingent of ex-Shielfield men took the points westward with guest Lee Complin, Ace Pijper and Sam McGurk leading the charge of a night packed with incident and fine racing.

Operating rider replacement for Archie Freeman the last thing the home side could afford was to lose another rider, which is exactly what happened in heat two as – with Mason Watson already excluded after he sent Elliot Kelly tumbling – Josh Embleton went too wide on the second bend of the rerun, the foam barrier causing instant deceleration and hurling him into the air in a terrifying crash.

That he was able to walk away was a huge relief to those watching but his bike, and ribs, were distinctly second-hand when he returned to terra firma. Although keen to continue, common sense prevailed and the tough Geordie was withdrawn from the meeting which left Bullets’ team manager Kevin Little to juggle the available resources as the night unfolded.

Mason clashes with Elliot Kelly. Picture: Taz McDougall

The home side bounced straight back from the heat two 0-5 as Danny Phillips and Jamie Halder left the McGurk brothers trailing in their wake.

Watson, who was to suffer a miserable night points’ wise, clipped the second bend fence and fell when comfortably third in four. With Greg Blair winning the battle of the skippers with former team-mate Luke Crang what would have been a 4-2 became the night’s first shared heat.

Halder turns 24 today (Sunday) and he must be keeping his fingers’ crossed that someone buys him a new engine after his number one machine exploded on the start line of five.

Phillips made another lightening trap but he was overhauled by Complin and had to fend off a spirited challenge from Pijper for second place, something offending the 16-year-old who sparked a bout of handbags between the two on his return to the pits, referee Michael Breckon taking a trip from his box to ensure that frayed tempers had calmed.

Connor Coles and Halder pulled back two points in six, Blair winning the next comfortably but then totally missing the start as he took the r/r ride in eight, working his way past Kelly but unable to catch Pijper.

Heat nine eventually became a home 4-2, although at one point it was a 5-1 as confusion reigned. Elliott overcooked it on the fourth bend and fell leaving Crang with nowhere to go other than into the fourth bend fence at high speed, fortunately just clipping the final polyfoam panel.

Phillips was virtually over the line when the incident happened, Mr Breckon initially awarding Halder second place before correcting himself and giving the two points to the unfortunate Crang.

Elliott Kelly leaves Luke Crang with nowhere to go. Picture: Taz McDougall

Berwick fielded just one rider in ten and disastrously, Coles’ race lasted just ten yards before his engine seized. Even then the drama was not over as Harry McGurk’s engine spluttered to a halt on lap three leaving brother Sam as the lone finisher for a rare 3-0.

Workington all but clinched the meeting in 11 when Blair gave Complin and Pijper too much of a start and couldn’t haul either in despite a superb effort, Halder managing to split the visitors in 12 but Watson could not find a way past Kelsey Dugard.

The match may have gone but the Bullets continued to go down fighting, 13 turning into the race of the season as Complin initially took Blair out to the fence, leaving a gap for Coles to dive through only for the Glasgow/Mildenhall veteran to hit the front again.

Blair was not to be denied, stalking Complin and eventually pulling off an audacious pass on the inside of the fourth bend before celebrating in a typically understated manner.

Greg celebrates in style. Picture: Nia Martin

The crowd has barely caught its breath before Phillips produced a brave second bend to force his way past Harry McGurk and share the points again.

Coles produced the perfect start in heat 15, clamping Complin to the kerb and allowing Blair to come round to join his team-mate. It was short-lived however, as the Comets’ guest roared back inside, Coles hitting the deck but clearing the track to allow his skipper to fend off a series of attacks to take the chequered flag, his personal joy tempered only by the loss of both two points and the Bullets’ perfect home league record.

Danny and Jamie on their way to a 5-1. Picture: Nia Martin

The fact that this was head and shoulders the most entertaining speedway at Shielfield this season was tempered by the sight of the Comets on the victory parade and the Bullets must once again regroup before the sides meet again this afternoon.

A good night for the visitors continued as the Meteors won the Northern Junior League match 20-16.

Bullets: Connor Coles 6, Jamie Halder 6+1, Danny Phillips 11, Greg Blair 15, Mason Watson 0, Josh Embleton 0

Comets: Lee Complin 12+1, Ace Pijper 9+1, Sam McGurk 9, Harry McGurk 3+1, Luke Crang 6, Kelsey Dugard 3+1, Elliot Kelly 6+2

George Dodds
George Dodds

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