SWINDON Robins team manager Alun Rossiter has delivered his middle order riders an ultimatum after admitting his side’s luck run out at the Abbey Stadium tonight.
The hosts fell to a 48-45 defeat to King’s Lynn Stars, a result that was made to look better than the performance suggested courtesy of two maximums in the last three heats for the Robins.
However, Rossiter was not papering over the cracks left by a display that saw Swindon trailing by 14 points at one stage.
Skipper Jason Doyle did all he could to drag his team through the meeting, scoring a maximum paid 18, but with Adam Ellis and Bradley Wilson-Dean, who fell in the opening heat, scoring just two points each, Rossiter has identified where his side’s weak spot lies.
“We were out-gated all night,” he said. “When we gated, we won races. It was as simple as that.
“We’re carrying too many passengers in the middle order and they have got to start looking over their shoulders now because I will make changes.
“I’ve made one change and I’ll make more changes, I’ll make wholesale changes if I have to.
“They got out of the start and we never made a start, apart from Jason, Nick and, to some extent, David (Bellego), but even David didn’t win a race tonight, which is unusual.
“He has been flying at the moment but I think we know what the problem is there.
“It’s a wake-up call for the middle order riders, it’s as simple as that.
“We’ve been lucky through the year but our luck run out tonight.
“We have come strong at the end in previous meetings, like we did again tonight, but we left it too late with too many points.
“We’ve got to get these boys going quicker from the start. Even against Rye House, they were with us at the beginning and then we pulled away at the end.
“The boys in the middle order need to start upping their game otherwise we’ll have to be looking at changes.
“I don’t normally like saying that but it’s quite clear, you only have to look at the averages and how they are at the moment.”
Wilson-Dean fell awkwardly before the first corner of heat one to leave himself with a swollen hand injury that could rule him out of tonight’s trip to Belle Vue Aces.
After a brief pause, Doyle, fresh off a third-place finish in the Grand Prix series in Warsaw, led from the front but Wilson-Dean struggled at the back.
New boy Dany Gappmaier gated well in heat two but was soon taken into bend one by Kai Huckenbeck and teammate Zach Wajtknecht as he was forced to settle for third in his first race in Robins colours.
Former Robins skipper Troy Batchelor proved he has not forgotten the way around the Abbey, leading from the front in heat three to give the visitors an early lead.
Despite a good start from the Swindon duo of David Bellego and Ellis in heat five, he visitors extended their lead as Chris Holder made the most of the Frenchman lifting out of bend two to take the win.
A fine move to undercut Robert Lambert into bend two from Doyle in heat six saw Swindon keep the gap at four but that was soon to stretch to six when Batchelor won his second race of the night in heat seven.
Swindon found themselves firmly behind the eight ball after eight heats as Wilson-Dean and Wajtknecht struggled from the start and the visitors team-rode for a first maximum of the night.
That was swiftly followed up by a second maximum for the Stars in heat nine as Huckenback this time teamed up with Lambert.
With the Robins 14 points adrift, Rossiter was forced to send Doyle out on the tactical ride in heat 10 and it delivered the return he was after as the Aussie took the win, but he was followed home by Bathcelor, with Huckenbeck falling at the back.
However, with Swindon in desperate need to keep chipping away at the Stars’ lead, it was the visitors who struck again in heat 12 as reserve Huckenbeck took his tally for the evening to 12+2.
Left needing maximums from the remaining three heats, Doyle and Morris delivered in heat 13 but Batchelor ensured the points headed to Norfolk with a win in heat 14.
A maximum in heat 15 for Doyle and Morris left the deficit at just three points at the end but it was not enough to appease Rossiter.
With difficult road trips to Belle Vue, this evening, and Wolverhampton Wolves on Monday, it is unlikely that further changes to the Robins’ septet will take place before, but the Abbey Stadium chief is not afraid to act if he does not see an improvement.
“It’s not the best of places to go, Wolverhampton on fire and Belle Vue, a strong team as they are,” added Rossiter.
“It’s up to the riders. I won’t be frightened to make changes.
“I’m looking for a response.
“Bradley has hurt his hand so he is going to let me know in the morning if he is going to be there, but we’ll probably be rider replacement for him.
“He’s hurt his hand and it’s all swollen up.”
SWINDON 45: Jason Doyle 18 (3,3,6^,3,3), Bradley Wilson-Dean 2 (0,0,1,2), Adam Ellis 2 (0,0,0,2), David Bellego 7 (2,2,1,2), Nick Morris 10+2 (2,2,2,2*,2*), Dany Gappmaier 3+3 (1*,0,1*,1*), Zach Wajtknecht 3+1 (2,1*,0,0)
KING’S LYNN STARS 48: Chris Holder 9 (2,3,3,1), Lewis Rose 5+1 (1*,1,3,0), Nicklas Porsing 3 (1,1,1), Troy Batchelor 12 (3,3,2,3,1), Robert Lambert 7+1 (3,2,2*,0,0), Kai Huckenbeck 12+2 (3,1*,2*, 3, FR,3), Josh Bailey 1 (0,0,0)