Sheffield produced an incredible comeback last night as they stunned Workington 47-46 to win their opening league encounter of 2013, and the real hero was the track man!
The Tigers were given a lesson in gating in the first half of the meeting and didn’t look like they’d get near their opponents all evening, but a mid-meeting discussion between the Tigers’ track staff and skipper Simon Stead saw a change in fortunes.
The home side were 14 points down after just five heats and you couldn’t see where they were going to claw the points back from.
Workington won the first three heats to go six points ahead and continued to turn the screw with two 5-1’s in the next two, which left the Tigers with a mountain to climb after just a third of the meeting.
The Tigers needed to dig deep if they were to avoid a humbling home defeat and after such a good start to the season they desperately needed to avoid a league defeat so early on in the campaign.
After the interval, though, Sheffield were quite brilliant as the improved dirt line produced pass after pass in a breathtaking meeting.
Richard Hall was charged with getting the Tigers back on track but couldn’t win his tactical ride, and at that stage Sheffield needed someone to step up to the plate and begin their charge.
The comeback started when Simon Stead donned the black-and-white helmet colour to gain a 7-2 with Facundo Albin, but Workington again banged in a heat advantage in the next race.
Joe Haines and Hall teamed up for a 5-1 in heat nine, and the Stead and Albin partnership again bore fruit in heat 10 to reduce the deficit to five and give the home fans hope.
A flurry of 3-3’s, including a stunning ride by Stead to pass both Comets’ riders to win heat 13, left Sheffield five down with two heats remaining. Jake Knight held on for a valuable point in heat 14 as Hall won, leaving Sheffield needing a 5-1 in the final race to seal an unlikely victory.
Stead made the start but Hall was at the back and it looked as if the Cumbrians would hold on, but last week’s maximum man reeled one Comet in then another to join his captain at the front and bring Owlerton to their feet.
Tigers visit Workington for the reverse fixture tomorrow evening.
n Tigers: Stead 17, Hall 10+2, Albin 6+1, Wells 6, Haines 5, Knight 3+1, Koppe 0.