Wednesday August 04, 2021
BIRMINGHAM hung on to beat Kent in a last heat decider on a successful night all-round at Perry Barr on Wednesday.

The Brummies won 46-44 in a fascinating Championship contest in the Second City and some thrilling racing was produced in front of a much healthier crowd.

Club owners had described the fixture as "˜make or break' following recent concerning attendance figures.

And while management members will meet later this week before issuing their verdict, there was plenty for them to be encouraged by at least.

The response from supporters was overwhelming as they turned out in force - and most noticeably was the increase in junior supporters.

They were treated to a fantastic night of entertainment as the Brummies battled hard to claim their first home win of the season.

They did hold an eight-point advantage with 11 races gone and looked on the verge of victory then.

But Kent refused to go down without a fight and moved to within two-points following back-to-back heat advantages in 12 and 13.

And while it was visiting riders who took the chequered flag in the final two races also, the hosts secured the minor places to hold on for the win.

Local lad Ashley Morris earned a crucial third place point in that last heat decider and he reckons it was the perfect conclusion to a big night for the club.

"It was a close match and we knew it was going to be a tough one," Morris said.

"To have a good turnout like we did though and to get the win, which was our priority, brought a buzz about the place again, especially pulling it off in a last heat decider.

"I threw some points away because of a stupid mistake early on and got caught out by the track a bit.

"But to recover it and help the team to a win was all I could ask for in the end."

Morris grew stronger as his programmed rides progressed and a strong showing in the penultimate race was enough to see him nominated for Heat 15 by team manager Laurence Rogers.

He rode a determined first lap in particular to keep Kent captain Scott Nicholls at bay and did the job alongside Brummies skipper Chris Harris who registered a third straight double figure score at Perry Barr.

Paco Castagna starred at reserve with his first home double figure tally of the campaign - that despite suffering from food poisoning in recent days and feeling far from 100 per cent throughout the meeting.

Valentin Grobauer did his job perfectly at No.2 and rounded off his programmed rides with an impressive race win whilst James Shanes was back in the thick of the action.

Erik Riss' night started brightly before two disappointing last rides saw him endure a tough first occasion in the No.1 racejacket while Jack Thomas, who was back following recent wrist and ankle injuries, battled a lot harder than his single point suggests.

Brummies are set to be back at Perry Barr next Wednesday (August 11, 7.30) with a strong looking Edinburgh side the visitors.

BIRMINGHAM 46: Chris Harris 12, Paco Castagna 10+2, Ashley Morris 6+2, Valentin Grobauer 6+1, James Shanes 6, Erik Riss 5, Jack Thomas 1.
KENT 44: Troy Batchelor 16, Paul Starke 9, Scott Nicholls 7+2, Dan Gilkes 7, Cameron Heeps 5+1, Ben Morley 0, Jake Mulford 0.

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