HEATHENS took a giant step towards the Knockout Cup semi-finals with an emphatic first-leg win at Buxton.
The former Cradley club dominated at the Hi-Edge Raceway and limited the home side to just three race wins out of 15.
The visitors recovered from a couple of early setbacks when skipper Adam Roynon suffered problems in the first race and both Byron Bekker and Ashley Morris fell in their opening outings.
But Tom Perry kept up his blistering start to the season by reeling off four straight wins with Roynon, Morris and reserve Dan Greenwood also taking multiple successes - and James White-Williams was involved in three 5-1s.
Heathens levelled an early deficit with a Roynon/White-Williams 5-1 in Heat 5 and they added advantages in the next three races to go eight points up.
The Hitmen pegged things for a time but some good team-riding from Roynon and White-Williams again kept Adam McKinna at bay for a 5-1 in Heat 11, and three 4-2s followed to extend the lead to 18 points.
Perry was denied a maximum in the last race by home No.1 Robert Branford, but Heathens had more than done their job and should be able to wrap up the tie in Tuesday’s second leg at Monmore.
Boss Will Pottinger said: “We were behind after four heats, but really after one ride each the lads all came into it and we put the hammer down in the second half of the meeting.
“Tom was in very good form, and we had contributions all the way down which was really good to see. It was a good all-round performance. “You can never be sure what’s going to happen in the second leg but it looks good for us, and I know all the lads are determined to give a good performance at home. It’s over a month since we’ve raced there, and we’ll be 100 per cent concentrated.”
BUXTON 36: Robert Branford 12, Luke Priest 6+1, Adam McKinna 6, Dean Felton 5+1, Ryan Blacklock 5+1, Richard Andrews 2+1, Michael Neale 0.
HEATHENS 54: Tom Perry 13+1, Adam Roynon 11, James White-Williams 8+3, Dan Greenwood 8, Ashley Morris 7, Byron Bekker 4, Darryl Ritchings 3.