Buxton Hitmen throw it away in last-heat defeat

LEADING BY EXAMPLE -- skipper Tony Atkin, who was Buxton Hitmen's top points' scorer. (PHOTO BY: Ian Charles)
LEADING BY EXAMPLE -- skipper Tony Atkin, who was Buxton Hitmen's top points' scorer. (PHOTO BY: Ian Charles)
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For the third time this season away from home, Buxton Hitmen let a double-figure lead slip in the National Speedway League -- this time losing in the final race against Mildenhall Fen Tigers.

The Hitmen began really well, restricting the home side to only one win in the first six heats, with Steve Jones registering his highest return (nine) in a Buxton race jacket and fellow reserve Jack Parkinson-Blackburn (seven) also performing well.

But having amassed a 12-point lead, they threw it away to go down by the narrowest of margins, 47-46, and give Mildenhall a 3-1 victory.

The turning point in the meeting came in heat nine when the Hitmen faced a tactical ride from the home side’s outstanding rider, Connor Mountain, who combined with teammate Connor Coles to score an 8-1 maximum.

As Mountain went on to accumulate 19 points in total, the visitors could provide only one heat winner in the second half of the meeting -- skipper Tony Atkin, who was most apologetic at the end, even though he top-scored again with 11.

Team boss Jason Pipe was surprisingly philosophical, insisting again that he feels tactical rides should not be allowed in the National League. “I was pleased with our overall performance,” said Pipe. “Take away that tactical ride and we won 46-44! I said before the meeting that I’d be happy with a point, and that’s what we got.”

Ryan Blacklock, who scored nine points, was nominated for the Bronze Helmet Challenge against the home team’s holder, Danny Halsey, but was beaten out of the gate and unable to make up the ground on a slick track.

The Hitmen now have just one more meeting this season -- at Hi-Edge on Sunday, October 18 when King’s Lynn Young Stars are the visitors.