Hitmen just miss out in a thriller

Jason Garrity forces his way between Sheffield Prowlers' Greg Blair and Adam Wrathall. Garrity's distinctive orange mudguards can be seen between the riders. Photo: �2011 Ian Charles.
Jason Garrity forces his way between Sheffield Prowlers' Greg Blair and Adam Wrathall. Garrity's distinctive orange mudguards can be seen between the riders. Photo: �2011 Ian Charles.

BUXTON Hitmen provided some of the most exciting racing the National League had seen this season during last Thursday evening’s clash against Sheffield at the Owlerton Stadium.

After a break in fixtures, the Hitmen were desperate to get back out on the race track and were ready to fight for some points.

Sheffield Prowlers v Buxton Hitmen, National League, 26.5.2011''Jason Garrity making a guest appearance for his old club at Sheffield, battles with Prowlers' Paul Cooper

Sheffield Prowlers v Buxton Hitmen, National League, 26.5.2011''Jason Garrity making a guest appearance for his old club at Sheffield, battles with Prowlers' Paul Cooper

The injured Ben Taylor was watching on as ex-Hitmen rider Jason Garrity stood in as number one. Garrity, who is famous for his no fear racing style, rode with Robert Branford to a fantastic 8-1 tactical against a very strong Sheffield side in heat 11.

The race was thrilling from start to finish with a tight first bend where Garrity was sandwiched between the two home riders.

Branford rode like a perfect team partner, slowing down just before the line so Garrity could take the double points for the team, before he followed him over to take the other two. Heat 13 saw captain Adam Allott and Garrity take a superb 5-1, and heat 15 saw the same from Allott and Branford.

But despite the 50-43 defeat to Sheffield, team manager Jack Lee was not downhearted: “I’m over the moon with the performance the lads put up against Sheffield, who are supposed to be one of the main contenders for the league this year.

Sheffield Prowlers v Buxton Hitmen, National League, 26.5.2011''Robert Branford leading Sheffield's Ashley Birks at Sheffield

Sheffield Prowlers v Buxton Hitmen, National League, 26.5.2011''Robert Branford leading Sheffield's Ashley Birks at Sheffield

“I can’t fault any of the lads for effort tonight. All these weeks off with no fixtures has been hard on us, so for them to ride like they did and nearly snatch a point is great and shows we have picked ourselves up from the lows at Stoke.

“We have just got to take this positivity now to Stoke on Saturday as we can’t afford to let that situation develop again (where they trailed 20-4 after four heats). We have luckily got a second chance and we need to take it now and get gating and get the points in.”

John McPhail was replaced at reserve by Paul Burnett, and Lee explained the decision: “We couldn’t afford to carry two reserves that aren’t scoring points. We want to give Ryan a bit longer to develop so we had to do something about it.

“We dropped John out and brought Paul in, and I was quite pleased with Paul’s performance. He wasn’t too far off the pace and I think when he gets going again he will be a good reserve for us, especially at home.”

l Following the re-arranged second leg of the Knockout Cup at Stoke on Saturday, the Hitmen entertain Dudley in the National League at Hi-Edge on Sunday (3pm start).

Sheffield Prowlers 50: Paul Cooper 2, Ashley Birks 13, Gary Irving 9+3, Steven Worrall 9, Greg Blair 4+1, Adam Wrathall 4, Richie Worrall 9+2.

Buxton Hitmen 43: Jason Garrity 12+1, Robert Branford 8+3, Luke Priest 6, Dean Felton 4+1, Adam Allott 11+1, Paul Burnett 2, Ryan Blacklock 0.