SAM Masters admitted he isn’t keen on last heat deciders, after Oxford Cheetahs began their home meetings this year with a dramatic 46-44 victory against Plymouth Gladiators.

The win keeps alive their hopes in the southern section of the BSN Series.

Cheetahs entered the decisive Heat 15 still two points behind, but Masters completed a faultless 15-point full maximum, with all eyes then on the battle for second place.

Oxford skipper Scott Nicholls thrust past Dan Thompson after a lap, but the teenager built up his speed around the outside and made a dash off the final bend.

It wasn’t possible to separate the two riders with the naked eye and it was several minutes before referee Gary Allan, with the aid of a frame-by-frame replay, gave the verdict to Nicholls, avoiding the need for an additional super heat to decide matters.

READ ALSO: Cowley boxer gearing up to ‘take shine off’ highly-rated opponent

Masters said: “I’m not keen on last heat deciders. I prefer the team to win by a few points, but it was exciting for the fans to watch.

“Winning last heat deciders is good, but the problem is sometimes they can go against you.

“When I was younger, I used to get much more worried about them. As I’ve gained experience, I’ve realised you can’t win them all, and even when you do lose them and feel you’ve let the team down, it’s not just down to that, it’s how the whole meeting has gone.

“I did see the battle for second place behind me in that final race. I did think about slowing down to help Scottie, but I felt that might get in his way a bit. I didn’t want to slow him down when he was battling for a position.

“Hats off to Plymouth. Last year, we gave them a bit of a flogging every time they came here, but they pushed us all the way and they made it a close meeting. We really had to dig deep to pull off the victory.

“A few of the other guys in our team had bike issues and hopefully we can get those sorted, and we can win more comfortably going forwards.

“It did feel a bit strange going into the meeting, knowing it was our opening home meeting. We’ve had to wait due to the weather, and hopefully now we start to race more often, it will improve for us as a team.”

Gladiators led 28-20 after eight races, and were six points ahead with three races to go.

Heat 11 was arguably the key race, as Ashton Boughen flew around Plymouth guest Zach Cook on the back straight of the first lap.

Nicholls glanced over his shoulder and then settled behind Boughen to ensure the 5-1 that reduced the deficit to two points heading into the interval.