Wednesday June 09, 2021
CO-OWNER David Mason is keen for Birmingham to take the positives from their opening league defeat at Perry Barr.

The Edwards Plumbing Brummies went down 48-42 to Glasgow in their first home Championship fixture on Wednesday.

It was a thoroughly entertaining contest in the Second City with the Brummies forcing a last heat decider against the early runaway league leaders - and whilst they couldn’t muster up the result they were after, they did become the first side to deny the Scots maximum league points this term.

Despite problems on their return to action seven days previous in the abandoned Knockout Cup clash against Redcar, Birmingham’s new-look track team produced a much-improved surface which served up some exciting racing throughout a tight tussle.

Reserve Paco Castagna raised a few eyebrows in the opener as he flew to the front ahead of 2017 British Champion Craig Cook.

The Italian produced a strong defensive ride, causing the Glasgow captain to explore every inch of the Perry Barr circuit during his pursuit.

It was looking good for Castagna until a slight error on bend two of the final lap which allowed Cook to come through and take the chequered flag.

Castagna was straight back out though and partnered fellow reserve Jack Thomas in an early 5-1 as the Brummies drew first blood.

The visitors replied instantly though with a maximum of their own from former Birmingham racers Justin Sedgmen and Ulrich Ostergaard.

A hat-trick of shared races followed before Glasgow edged in front in the seventh with that same duo combing for another heat advantage.

The visitors extended their lead to six by the interval with the Brummies being punished for some slow starting.

Despite Erik Riss and Castagna coming out and registering a 4-2 in Heat 11, Glasgow took a big step towards victory with a maximum in Heat 12, moving them eight up with three to go.

But Brummies weren’t done yet as Riss and captain Chris Harris brought the house down with two stunning rides in Heat 13 to halve the gap between the two sides.

And with Castagna, who was understandably voted Rider of the Night by meeting sponsors Mercom, clear and gone in the penultimate race, all eyes were on Ashley Morris.

But there was disappointment when the local lad came down whilst in third place on the third lap.

It meant the big-hitting duo of Riss and Harris needed to replicate what they managed in Heat 13 to grab a draw - but they were outgated by their opponents with Riss able to come through for second to deny Glasgow the fourth league point available.

Whilst he was disappointed to see his side only claim six race wins, Mason says people must consider the opposition.

“I said in the build-up to the meeting that for me Glasgow were one of this year’s main contenders for the Championship,” he said.

“We all knew they were coming here with a strong side on the back of a good start to the season and on the back of turning things around to win at Kent the night before.

“So we knew it would be tough but that doesn’t make the fact we lost any less disappointing.

“A few of our boys would probably admit themselves that they didn’t score the sorts of points they’d like to but it happens to all riders at some point.

“There’s no disgrace in losing to this Glasgow team with the confidence they’ve got and despite us having a strong team ourselves, there would’ve been people out there who wouldn’t have given us a chance of pushing them all the way.

“So that’s a plus in itself in one way and especially this early in the season I think it’s important we do look at the positives - and another one of those tonight was the improvement in the track.

“I have to say a big thanks to Dixie Dean (track curator) and also to Wolverhampton promoter Chris Van Straaten and the three members of his track team too.

“Nobody has a clue about the amount of work they’ve had to pull out of the bag in such a short space of time and while it was far from perfect, I think everyone will agree with me when I say we were much happier and very encouraged.

“We’ve been restricted with the amount of time we could spend on the track again this week, but it was so much better and even though it was a bit dusty at times, I thought some of the racing was excellent.

“It’s amazing how they turned it around in a limited amount of time and for me that bodes well going forward.”

Birmingham are back in action next Wednesday (June 16, 7.30) when they renew rivalries with Poole - and with raceday walk-up admissions now banned again, tickets are available at:

BIRMINGHAM 42: Erik Riss 15, Paco Castagna 8+1, Chris Harris 6+3, Jack Thomas 6, James Shanes 5+2, Ashley Morris 2, Valentin Grobauer r/r

GLASGOW 48: Craig Cook 12, Ulrich Ostergaard 9+2, Justin Sedgmen 8, Ricky Wells 7+1, Sam Jensen 7+1, Jordan Jenkins 3+2, Broc Nicol 2.

Result of MSDL match:
BIRMINGHAM BULLS 12: Luke Muff 12, Tim Colley 4+1, Stephen Whitehouse 0.
WOLVERHAMPTON HEATHENS 12: Sam Woolley 6, Ryan Ashcroft 5+1, Ben Phillips1+1.

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