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Speedway: Top order trouble as Poole Pirates are defeated at Belle Vue
A RARE off night for Poole's top order ultimately proved costly as Belle Vue's late rally consigned Pirates to their first defeat of 2014.
With the meeting deadlocked at 36-36, Aces played their trump cards and racked up maximum points from the final three heats in a 51-39 success at Kirkmanshulme Lane.
The home side's big guns flexed their muscles as Craig Cook secured a paid maximum while Grand Prix star Matej Zagar scored 12.
And while Poole were missing both of their regular reserves, it was uncharacteristically low scores from Chris Holder and Maciej Janowski which did the damage.
Team boss Neil Middleditch readily admitted his leading lights had failed to shine in Manchester but still felt the final result had been harsh on Pirates.
“It was nip and tuck most of the way but we had no answer when they came on strong at the end,” said Middleditch.
“Chris had an off night and just couldn't get off at the start, but Belle Vue were very good, took full advantage and made the meeting look worse than it really was.”
The visitors started poorly as Zagar romped to victory but Charles Wright, deputising for the injured Kyle Newman, took command of the first reserve heat.
Janowski fell while trying to make up ground in heat three but a wide pass by Josh Grajczonek kept Poole in touch with last-ditch stand-in Oliver Greenwood taking full advantage of Stefan Nielsen's slip on the final turn of heat four.
Shaky moments from Vaclav Milik and Shamek Pawlicki in the fifth saw the visitors fall further behind while a lesson in gating from Scott Nicholls extended to eight the gap as Holder just failed to catch up.
But Milik's competent showing won heat seven for Pirates, while a keenly-contested eighth trimmed the margin further as Pawlicki held off Nicholls to take the flag and Grajczonek passed Richie Worrall for third despite a sluggish gate.
Poole were back in the hunt when their reserves secured a first maximum of the night, Wright's swift start seeing him race away with Coventry asset Greenwood providing the support.
That feat was almost matched by Pirates' Polish pair but a controversial call judged that Zagar had pipped Janowski to second at the end of the 10th heat as Pawlicki handed the visitors a slender lead.
But no sooner had Middleditch's men battled back, a third maximum swung the pendulum back in Aces' favour as Nicholls flew out of the traps while Cook held off the misfiring Holder.
Grajczonek's second heat success of the night restored parity after 12 but the writing was on the wall as Cook stormed to victory and Janowski was caught cold on the third lap by the persistent Zagar.
Heat 14 was awarded to the hosts as Milik smashed into the fence and Worrall and Nielsen were handed the points.
Grajczonek was thrust into the limelight for the final heat with Pawlicki but Zagar passed the Aussie on lap three to round off the hosts' strong finish.
RIDER SCORES AND HEAT DETAILS
Belle Vue 51: 1 Matej Zagar (3-3-2-2*-2*) 12+2, 2 Michael Palm Toft (2*-2-0-0) 4+1, 3 Scott Nicholls (1-3-2-3) 9, 4 Richie Worrall (2-1-0-3) 6, 5 Craig Cook (3-2*-2*-3-3) 13+2, 6 Stefan Nielsen (2-0-1-2-2*) 7+1, 7 Ben Reade (0-0-0) 0.
Poole Pirates 39: 1 Chris Holder (1-2-1-0) 4, 2 Josh Grajczonek (0-3-1-3-1) 8, 3 Shamek Pawlicki (2-1-3-3-0) 9, 4 Vaclav Milik (0-3-0-DQ) 3, 5 Maciej Janowski (F-0-1-1) 2, 6 Charles Wright (guest) (3-1-3-1) 8, 7 Oliver Greenwood (guest) (1-1-2*-1) 5+1.
League points: Belle Vue Aces 3 Poole Pirates 0.
Ht 1: Zagar, Palm Toft, Holder, Grajczonek 59.5 (1-5)
Ht 2: Wright, Nielsen, Greenwood, Reade 61.5 (5-7)
Ht 3: Cook, Pawlicki, Nicholls, Janowski (fell) 60.2 (7-11)
Ht 4: Grajczonek, Worrall, Greenwood, Nielsen 60.8 (11-13)
Ht 5: Zagar, Cook, Pawlicki, Milik 59.1 (12-18)
Ht 6: Nicholls, Holder, Worrall, Janowski 59.9 (14-22)
Ht 7: Milik, Palm Toft, Wright, Reade 60.9 (18-24)
Ht 8: Pawlicki, Nicholls, Grajczonek, Worrall 60.6 (22-26)
Ht 9: Wright, Greenwood, Nielsen, Reade 61.3 (27-27)
Ht 10: Pawlicki, Zagar, Janowski, Palm Toft 61.4 (31-29)
Ht 11: Nicholls, Cook, Holder, Milik 60.7 (32-34)
Ht 12: Grajczonek, Nielsen, Greenwood, Palm Toft 61.5 (36-36)
Ht 13: Cook, Zagar, Janowski, Holder 60.1 (37-41)
Ht 14: Worrall, Nielsen, Wright, Milik (dq) Awarded (38-46)
Ht 15: Cook, Zagar, Grajczonek, Pawlicki 60.8 (39-51)
TONIGHT'S OTHER ELITE LEAGUE RESULT: Wolverhampton 48 Lakeside 42.
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