POOLE Comets' seven-match unbeaten run came to an end at Wolverhampton – partly thanks to a controversial heat-16 refereeing decision.

With Poole holding a one point lead, events came to a head when Nathan Goulden was forced onto the centre infield after an aggressive challenge from one of the Wolverhampton riders.

To everyone’s surprise, the match referee then excluded Goulden for leaving the track of his own accord.

Comets went on to lose 90-87.

Poole went into the important league fixture against their long-standing midland rivals without four of their senior riders.

Macie Schmidt and top junior racer Josh Nottle were given the opportunity to show their pace at highest level of domestic racing.

Poole took the lead through Ben Mould and Goulden in heat six and kept their noses in front to lead 46-43 at the halfway mark.

A succession of shared heats helped Poole to hang on to their three-point advantage until heat 14, when Aaron Smith and Fraser Garnett raced home for a maximum heat win to extend their advantage.

Wolverhampton hit back immediately with a maximum in race 15 before the controversial happenings in a hard-fought heat 16 brought the contest to boiling point.

The final two races saw Mould and Smith take the chequered flag for Poole but with the home side filling the minor places, the match result slipped from the Comets' grasp.

Ben Mould was unbeaten in his five races, finishing with a faultless 20-point maximum.

Smith was back to his very best and was only beaten once to finish with a 19-point haul, while Garnett's 17 points included two race wins.

“It’s disappointing when a single refereeing decision effectively cost us the match,” said Comets team manager Colin Sutton.

“But it must not detract from what was a great team performance. In particular, it was great to see Aaron Smith back to his old form with his best display since returning to full-time racing."

Poole: Ben Mould 20, Aaron Smith 19, Fraser Garnett 17, Wil Bristowe 11, Macie Schmidt 7, Josh Nottle 7, Nathan Goulden 6.