A SOLID win for the Oxford Cheetahs last Wednesday, in their first play-off encounter, has set them up nicely for the rest of the ‘mini league’ part of the competition.

It was certainly touch and go for the first two thirds of the meeting, with the home side only being two points ahead at the interval stage – which led to one of team manager Peter Schroeck’s famous pep talks.

“I had to get the boys together and shake them up a little bit, and make them realise what this is all about,” he said.

It certainly seemed to work as the Cheetahs were in sparkling form in the final four heats and a 10-point advantage was a good result.

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“All of the guys pulled together, Henry’s [Atkins] three points are as important as the double figure scorers,” added Schroeck.

“I was really proud of all of them.”

Redcar Bears are the visitors this week and they have been hit with the awful news that their inspirational captain, Charles Wright, is ruled out for the rest of the season after a horror crash on his Polish League debut.

It makes the Bears the underdogs for this group, but Schroeck was clear that nothing should be taken for granted.

“I do expect another win at home, but the aggregate point is what you have to work for. I believe the aggregate point will work out who will win the group,” he said.

“You have to do your best at home because then the pressure is not on us, the pressure is on them.”

I mused in this column last week that we may be at a disadvantage having both home meetings before either of our away meetings in these play-offs, however I was put in my place.

“For me, I prefer it,” stated Schroeck.

“We will have done our job at home, we then go to Redcar and Glasgow. The pressure is on them more than it is on us.”

In the other group, which will decide who plays the winner of our group, it is the Scunthorpe Scorpions who are stealing a march on the play-off favourites Poole Pirates.

The Scorpions managed a draw at Wimborne Road on Wednesday (losing out to Poole in the Super Heat) and easily swept away Edinburgh on Sunday, putting them top of the group.

Poole face Edinburgh at home tomorrow and then Friday could be a red-letter day with Poole at Scunthorpe and Oxford at Redcar.

The Oxford Chargers’ final home league meeting has been rescheduled for next Wednesday and should confirm their place in the National League grand final.