Paul Starke had a tiring night with seven rides, earning 14 points.
WIGHTLINK Islanders slipped to defeat at Scunthorpe Saints on Bank Holiday Monday, losing 50-40 and missing out on the chance to consolidate third spot in the National League.
The side, who had new signing Steve Jones in their ranks to cover for Kyle Hughes — who announced his possible retirement from the sport after his bike’s engine blew up against Buxton — were unable to stop the Saints from taking the lead midway through the meet and pull away for victory.
They started brightly enough, with Ben Hopwood and Danny Warwick collecting maximum points in the opening heat. That was swiftly followed by a 4-2 advantage from reserves Paul Starke and Danny Stoneman in heat two and the lead was now up to six points.
Scunthorpe hit back though with both a maximum win and a 4-2 in the next two races but Starke and Aaron Baseby finished first and third respectively in heat 7 to put the Wightlink Islanders back into the lead at 22-20. The lead was wiped out though with the home side gaining a maximum win in heat 9 and worse was to follow as they recorded similar advantages in heats 12 and 13 to put them ten points clear at 44-34 with just two races remaining and any hopes of an Islanders’ victory ended.
A Starke/Baseby 5-1 in the first of those two remaining races gave the Islanders hope that, if they could share the points in the last heat, they could gain a point. However, Scunthorpe’s Tom Young and Oliver Greenwood took the win.
Starke, who had a huge seven rides on the night, was top scorer with 14 points.
One half of the Wightlink Islanders management team, Kevin Shepherd, was disappointed. He said: "Overall, and without taking anything away from the Scunthorpe youngsters who rode well, I was disappointed that we didn’t come away from the there with at least a point.
"We started brightly but again faded in the second half of the meeting and that’s something we’ll be looking to put right in our coming matches."
Islanders took on Mildenhall at Smallbrook last night (Thursday) in the National Trophy, and tomorrow (Saturday) travel to Rye House in the league. On Tuesday, they travel to leaders Dudley.
Meanwhile, an Islanders’ quartet were one of the eight that took part in the re-arranged National League Fours meeting at Stoke yesterday, the meeting having fallen foul of the weather on the original date back in June.
With four riders unavailable on this new date, it was always going to be a struggle for the Islanders especially as they were drawn in the same heat semi-final as home side Stoke and league leaders Dudley.
And when Ben Hopwood suffered machinery problems in his opening ride (the format was such that riders only got two rides each) any chance of a place in the final disappeared.
Mildenhall ultimately took the title ahead of Buxton, Dudley and Stoke.