A NIGHT that promised so much ended in bitter disappointment as Redcar Bears suffered a shock home defeat in their final League Cup group match.
After taking a point from the reverse fixture at Owlerton the previous evening, the Ecco Finishing Bears needed just three points – which they would have received for a win of six points or more – would have earned them top spot in the final table.
On current form that didn’t seem to be a problem. How wrong we all were.
It wasn’t just the defeat that shocked us, but the margin too.
The Bears badly missed No 1 Richard Lawson – on duty for parent club Lakeside in the Elite League – terribly and just never really got going.
While the Tigers scored solidly throughout the order – No 1 Simon Stead and reserve Josh Bates each dropped just one and two points respectively – the hosts had to rely on four riders for all but two their points, a pretty shocking statistic at home.
Rafal Konopka and Luke Crang are still finding their feet, of course, but Hugh Skidmore’s pointless performance certainly wasn’t expected, especially given the form he’s been in lately.
And while guest No 1 Kevin Doolan weighed in with seven points, you’d have been virtually guaranteed much higher from Lawson who hasn’t been beaten at South Tees Motorsports Park this term, but the defeat wasn’t just down to that.
Hats off to Aaron Summers and especially Jan Graversen who couldn’t be faulted though, while Carl Wilkinson was in typically buccaneering form early on, charging past both Sheffield riders in each of his first two races, although Simon Stead did managed to find a way through again in the second of them.
The Tigers took a 5-1 in the opening race and that set the tone then. They’d not been ahead until after the final race 24 hours earlier but they were far more lively this time.
After being 21-15 down early on the Bears cut the gap to just two points but weren’t able to continue the comeback.
A minute’s silence in memory of former STMP Track man Ian Wilson was held before the start and impeccably observed.
BEARS: Jan Graversen 12, Aaron Summers 10+2, Kevin Doolan 7, Carl Wilkinson 6, Rafal Konopka 1+1, Luke Crang 1, Hugh Skidmore 0.
TIGERS: Josh Bates 13, Simon Stead 11, Taylor Poole 8+3, Leigh Lanham 6, Adam Roynon 6, Andre Compton 5+3, Simon Nielsen 4+2.