SWINDON Robins team manager Alun Rossiter felt his side answered their critics by securing a six-point lead after the first leg of their SGB Premiership Knockout Cup semi-final against King’s Lynn Stars.

The Robins saw their hopes of defending the Premiership title dashed last week after failing to qualify for the end-of-season play-offs, but rallied bravely against the table-topping Stars to keep themselves in with a chance of more silverware.

Swindon trailed by two points with three heats remaining of a topsy-turvy meeting at the Abbey Stadium but earned a 13-5 advantage over the final three races to take the initiative in the battle for a place in the final.

Tobiasz Musielak led the way with a 12-point haul, while Troy Batchelor also hit double figures on paid 12.

Rossiter is now hoping his team can finish the job in next Monday’s second leg at the Adrian Flux Arena, saying: “We knew it was going to be a tough meeting, King’s Lynn are not top of the league for no reason.

“There were a lot of questions asked of us after last week and we had a chat before the meeting and I couldn’t ask for any more effort from the team. That was 120 per cent.

“It was pretty solid all the way through. Adam (Ellis) had a very good night, David (Bellego) came to the party as well, Zach (Wajtknecht) had a vital 5-1 and Nick (Morris) had a great win over Robert Lambert in there too.

“All these boys ride the King’s Lynn track quite well, and while it is not a massive lead, it is enough to go there with the wind behind us.”

Swindon got the night off to a winning start, Batchelor taking the chequered flag in the opening race. A brilliant start from the Robins saw them gate on a 5-1 but Adam Ellis and Robert Lambert swapped places back and forth on laps two and three, the Stars man finally sealing second.

A slight mistake from Zach Wajtknecht cost him victory in the second race as he ran wide on lap two to allow Michael Palm Toft through.

Palm Toft roared off the line to make it back-to-back wins in the next, but Musielak and David Bellego were able to slot in behind him and limit the damage to a shared heat.

Niels-Kristian Iversen then had the measure of Swindon skipper Nick Morris in the next, making it three King’s Lynn wins in a row, but the Robins hit back in perfect fashion to take a first maximum of the night.

Musielak and Bellego shot off the line and the Frenchman did a stunning job to fend off Lambert’s attempts to pass as the hosts led 16-14 after five races.

Swindon hit their stride as Ellis and Batchelor combined to make it a second successive 5-1 victory in the next, although a stuttering start from Morris allowed Erik Riss to edge clear and win heat seven.

King’s Lynn levelled things up overall with their first maximum of the night in the eighth contest, the only drama coming out front as Palm Toft snatched the win from team-mate Riss on the last lap.

The Robins were in the midst of a tough run as Iversen and Palm Toft then combined for a second Stars maximum in a row, the latter fending off a gutsy ride from Musielak.

Stars' lead was 32-28 after Iversen took the spoils in heat 10. Ellis looked to have made the start, but he left the smallest of gaps up the inside and Iversen took full advantage, the Swindon youngster then unable to reclaim the lead despite a valiant battle.

A stunning pass from Morris bagged him the win in the next. Lambert made the gate, but the Swindon skipper was immediately all over the back of him, cutting to the inside on lap three to snatch the lead.

That kicked off an excellent run for the hosts as Bellego got probably the best start of the night to win a shared heat 12 before a cracking race between the teams’ top two unfolded in the next.

Batchelor nosed in front early on, with Iversen then having to fend off Morris’ charge for second to deny the home side a maximum as the overall scores were levelled up once more.

Swindon’s winning run continued in the penultimate race, as Musielak and Wajtknecht dropped the Stars duo out of the gate to roar to a dominant maximum.

The best race of the night unfolded in the finale. Iversen made the gate and led for two laps, but Musielak nipped at his heels before pulling off a superb move for the lead. Batchelor tried the same, but the King’s Lynn man hung on for second.

SWINDON 48: Troy Batchelor 10+2 (3-2’-1’-3-1), Adam Ellis 7 (1-3-1-2), David Bellego 6+2 (1’-2’-0-3), Tobiasz Musielak 12 (2-3-1-3-3), Nick Morris 8 (2-2-3-1), Zach Wajtknecht 5+1 (2-0-1-0-2’), Jack Smith 0 (0-0-0)

KING’S LYNN 42: Robert Lambert 5 (2-1-2-0-0), Erik Riss 5+1 (0-0-3-2’-0), Ty Proctor R/R, Thomas Jorgensen 4 (0-1-R-2-1), Niels-Kristian Iversen 14 (3-1-3-3-2-2), Michael Palm Toft 12+2 (3-3-R-3-2’-1’), Simon Lambert 2 (1-1-R)

ROBINS have announced that last week’s abandoned SGB Premiership meeting at home to Belle Vue Aces has been re-arranged for Thursday, September 20.