SWINDON Robins Select endured a tough night on their return to speedway as Oxford Cheetahs hammered Alun Rossiter’s men 55-35 at Sandy Lane on Wednesday night.

The Robins claimed just four race wins all night as the Cheetahs’ superior track knowledge paid huge dividends at Oxford Stadium.

But on a day which was about more than just the result, Swindon will have been delighted to race competitively in front of the significant numbers of supporters who made the trip down the A420 once again.

The Robins were led by 2017 world champion Jason Doyle, with 2019 double winner Adam Ellis and 2007 British Grand Prix victor, Chris Harris also in the line-up.

Anders Rowe, Kyle Howard, and Justin Sedgmen were all in the programme but were not available on the night for one reason or another.

Oxford named the talented and experienced pair of Sam Masters and Scott Nicholls in their septet.

In the first four races, very little passing took place as the riders settled into their task. Oxford took an early lead after Masters slipped past Doyle at the start of one and Cameron Heeps held off the challenge of Max Clegg.

Jack Smith made a blistering start in the second, and it appeared as though Swindon would level the scores, only for Luke Killeen to battle past Sam Hagon on the final bend of the third lap.

A 3-3 in the third featured a comfortable win for Nicholls from gate four, and it was a similar story prior to the first break when Lewis Kerr slid past Harris on the second bend. ‘Bomber’ Harris put a nose out in front on the first bend, but with his back wheel still spinning on two, Kerr pushed the Cheetahs’ advantage to four points.

By the midway point, Oxford had stretched their lead to 10 points thanks to two race wins from three. Doyle and Nicholls went head to head in the fifth, but Nicholls showed all of his experience to hold off Doyle and bank a 4-2 for the hosts.

Harris won a non-event of a sixth heat to record a drawn race for Swindon, but a disastrous minute for the Robins next up allowed Oxford to win it 5-1. The battle was for second, and Henry Atkins' superior track knowledge helped him fire to the inside straight away and zip away from Ellis.

It appeared as though the Robins might chip away at their hosts’ advantage after the restart when Max Clegg fired away and never looked back. Sam Hagon initially got the better of Killeen, but on the final bend, Hagon went far too wide and was pipped for third.

A seemingly uneventful ninth outing appeared to be coasting towards a home 4-2 with Jordan Jenkins at the front, only for Nicholls to stick at the inside line and pop a front wheel ahead of old Team GB buddy Harris as they crossed the finish line to convert it into a 5-1.

Oxford were having the night their own way, and that continued with a straightforward 5-1 in heat 10. Heeps and Masters were simply too good for Thompson and Ellis, respectively.

A 4-2 in the 11th all but wrapped up the result – if it was ever in any doubt – as Nicholls took advantage of Doyle's twitchy start to claim his third race win of the night. And despite a slight mistake from the Brit on the third lap, Doyle couldn't squeeze past.

Three race wins quickly turned into four for the ex-British number one in the 12th while a dull race was only livened up by Smith’s efforts in holding off Killeen at the back of the 3-3.

There was another 3-3 in the 13th too, and while there was no passing to note, Doyle almost set hearts racing when he lifted out of turn two. The Australian held on, however, and settled in behind Masters but ahead of Harris.

The third consecutive 3-3 in heat 14 featured just Swindon’s third race win of the evening. Dan Thompson was imperious out of gate one in white, hugging the inside on his way to victory and leaving both Jenkins and Henry Atkins in his dust.

And the evening was completed with a race win for Kerr – leading Doyle to his fifth second place ahead of Harris in third.

OC line-up: 1. Sam Masters, 2. Cameron Heeps, 3. Scott Nicholls, 4. Jordan Jenkins, 5. Lewis Kerr, 6. Henry Atkins, 7. Luke Killeen.

SRS line-up: 1. Jason Doyle, 2. Max Clegg, 3. Adam Ellis, 4. Dan Thompson, 5. Chris Harris, 6. Jack Smith, 7. Sam Hagon.