Reading Racers put in a spirited performance, but it wasn't enough to stop them going down 46-44 to Isle of Wight Islanders at Smallmead Stadium last night. Islanders looked to have the match sewn up as they led by six-points with two heats remaining, but a late Reading fight-back, at least took it to a last heat decider.

Isle of Wight's number one Danny Bird, got his team off to a winning start by taking the chequered flag in the opening heat. Racers pair Glen Cunningham and Paul Clews made sure the points were shared at 3-3, by taking the minor places. Racers guest Cunningham, in place of the injured Racers skipper Phil Morris, made Bird work for his win though, as he pressured the Islander right to the finishing line.

Reading got their noses in front in heat two, when Shane Colvin and Danny King earned their team a 4-2 heat advantage over Islands Chris Mills to lead by 7-5 in the early stages. It was honours even in heat three as Andrew Appleton and Jonas Davidsson followed Islanders heat-leader Ray Morton home. Davidsson briefly led the race, but Morton moved in front at the end of the first lap.

The visitors levelled the scores at 12-12 in heat four, when an Islanders 4-2 from the brilliant Australian Adam Shields and Gary Phelps over Racers Scott Smith and King, squared things up. Two successive shared 3-3 heats, left the scores level at 18 each after six races.

The visitors took the lead in heat seven, with a 4-2 from Morton and Frenchman Sebastian Tresarrrieu. Smith split the Islanders pairing with a second place for the Euphony Racers. Isle of Wight now led by a score of 22-20.

Heat nine had a air of controversy about it. Islanders reserve Mills was excluded from the re-run after falling on the first bend, after appearing to take a nudge from Reading's Swedish star Davidsson. All four riders back in the re-run would have been a fair decision, but the referee made the decision to exclude the fallen Mills. In the re-run Shields made amends for missing the start at the first time of asking, and won the race ahead of the Racers pair Appleton and Davidsson. It was another shared 3-3 heat, leaving a progressive score of 28-26 in favour of the Island.

Reading's own Aussie Smith made a good start in heat eleven to lead early on, but was passed by Bird at the end of the first lap. Colvin beat Phillips for the third place, to still leave just two points in it at 34-32.

The match turned in heat 12 when a shock 5-1 for Islanders from Morton and Mills, with Colvin and Davidsson tailed off for the solitary Racers point. The maximum heat win put the visitors in to a six-point lead of 39-33, with just three heats remaining.

Many expected things to get even worse for Reading in heat 13, as Isle of Wight lined up with the previously unbeaten pair of Bird and Shields. They obviously hadn't accounted for Scott Smith though, as the Aussie Racer made a super start to lead from tapes to flag, for his first heat win of the evening. The 3-3 shared heat still gave Reading some slight hope, as they trailed 42-36 with two races to go.

With Smith in such good form, Reading Team Manager Ivan Shears brought the in-form Racer in as a tactical substitute in the penultimate heat. His faith was repaid as Smith and Appleton linked up for a maximum 5-1 over Tresarrieu and Mills, to take the match to a last heat decider, with Isle of Wight's lead cut to just two points at 43-41.

Racers hopes of a famous comeback were finally dashed though, when a 3-3 in the nominated riders race of heat 15, left a final score of 46-44 in favour of the Islanders. Smith showed his much improved form by winning his third heat in as many races, but the Isle of Wight pair of Shields and Morton left the other Racer Appleton at the back.