LEICESTER boss Simon Stead believes his side have given themselves “a fighting chance” of progressing in the Knockout Cup after a slender home win over King’s Lynn.
The Watling JCB Lions squeezed past the visitors 48-42 in the quarter-final first leg at the Paul Chapman and Sons Arena, ahead of the return fixture nine days later.
Leicester came good towards the end with two 5-1s in the last three races, after another maximum return in heat six. King’s Lynn got one of their own in heat eight.
It gives Stead’s men the upper hand against a King’s Lynn side shorn of captain Robert Lambert, who was left stranded in Latvia by a delayed flight.
The hosts were also missing their skipper, with Danny King sidelined after his arm went under a tyre at Ipswich Witches last Thursday night.
Ricky Wells stepped in as a guest but Hans Andersen was the star of the meeting with a 13-point return, Leicester No 1 Kenneth Bjerre chipping in with 11.
Stead reckons Lions will face a much tougher test away from home when the two clubs meet again, with a place in the last four at stake.
He said: “It’s another home victory, but I would have liked for it to be a bit more convincing as they were without Robert.
“We should have capitalised on that more and we didn’t, but we know what we’ve got to do at King’s Lynn now.
“Again, we’ve been unbalanced again through injuries, which has been a constant frustration since the start of the season. We’ve yet to have a balanced one to seven for very long.
“We didn’t cover Danny’s rides as well as we would have liked and struggled a little bit at reserve, too, so there’s things we need to work on.
“It was difficult for Ricky to come in and ride a track that he isn’t used to, he’s stepped in and did as well as he could. We needed more and probably would have got it with Danny.
“He’s out and, for the short term, it’s probably doubtful he’ll be back at King’s Lynn, so we’ll be looking for cover and we’ll try and get the best rider that we can.
“They did well to stay in it, the big guns came out where it mattered in heats 13 and 15 and gave us a fighting chance. We’ll have to be at our best to get anything out of the second leg.”
LEICESTER 48: Andersen 13 + 1, Bjerre 11 +1, Pieszczek 8, Newman 5 + 1, Sarjeant 4 + 1, Wells 4, Kurtz 3.
KING’S LYNN 42: Proctor 10 + 1, Iversen 9, Kerr 7 + 1, Jorgensen 7, Palm Toft 4 + 1, Andersen 4 + 1, Mountain 1.