READING Racers lost 22-14 to a strong Exeter Falcons side in their Youth Development League match at Swindon last Thursday.

While the visitors included three riders with National League experience, Racers struggled to put a team together from their own squad and had to bring in Eli Meadows, who has only recently turned 15 and progressed onto a 500cc machine.

With Falcons captain Max Pankhurst suffering bike problems before the meeting, Racers' managers Gene Carter and Mat Stevens agreed to their Exeter counterpart Alan Spencer's request to switch riders in the first race to give the 43- year-old more time to sort his machinery.

Reading skipper Nick Laurence streaked away to take the lead from Adam Sheppard with Pankhurst's replacement James Chattin in third place ahead of Meadows, but Sheppard got through to take the chequered flag for a 4-2 win.

The second heat was re-run after Exeter's Saul Bulley had slid off and ended 3-3 with Racers duo William O'Keefe and Rhys Laker following home Chattin.

Leading 7-5, Exeter replaced Chattin with No. 1 Sheppard for the third race, but the Reading management claimed this was against the rules and protested.

The race went ahead with Sheppard securing victory ahead of Laurence, Bulley and Meadows for another 4-2 scoreline, giving Falcons a four-point advantage.

The fourth race saw Sheppard out on the track for the third time, but he suffered engine problems at the tapes, leaving O'Keefe to take the race from Pankhurst and Laker for a 4-2 win to narrow the gap to two points. But Exeter sealed victory in heat five with a 5-1 win from Bulley and Pankhurst over Laker and Meadows.

While Meadows failed to score he certainly didn't disgrace himself on his debut.

In the final race of the match, Sheppard and Chattin secured another 4-2 over O'Keefe and Laurence, leaving Falcons victorious by eight points.

The Racers management were left frustrated as it was the second time they have faced a team switching riders which they believe is against the rules.

They are due to visit Plymouth tomorrow (Friday) to face Exeter in the return fixture.

In the past week, Carter and wife Emma raised more than £750 at the Swindon track for the fund set up to assist Sam Norris, who is recovering in hospital following a serious head injury.

Thursday's scorers:

Reading 14: N. Laurence 4, E. Meadows 0, W. O'Keefe 7, R. Laker 3+1.

Exeter 22: A. Sheppard 9, M. Pankhurst 4+1, J. Chattin 5, S. Bulley 4.

Heat one: Sheppard, Laurence, Chattin, Meadows.

Heat two (re-run): Chattin, O'Keefe, Laker, Bulley (fx).

Heat three: Sheppard, Laurence, Bulley, Meadows.

Heat four: O'Keefe, Pankhurst, Laker, Sheppard (ef).

Heat five: Bulley, Pankhurst, Laker, Meadows.

Heat six: Sheppard, O'Keefe, Chattin, Laurence.