Wednesday September 01, 2021
BIRMINGHAM toppled Championship leaders Poole 49-41 on a dramatic night at Perry Barr – to keep their play-off hopes very much alive.

A fifth successive home league victory leaves the Brummies just two points off the top six, and ideally placed should any of the sides above them slip up over the coming weeks.

And having defeated reigning champions Leicester three weeks ago this was another demonstration of their increasing confidence on their own circuit, as the Pirates ended up with nothing to show from the meeting.

The visitors, already operating rider-replacement, were reduced to five riders in the very first race when with Birmingham holding a 5-1 position, Stefan Nielsen hit the rear wheel of Valentin Grobauer, sending both heavily in the fence.

Whilst Grobauer was able to be helped away after treatment, Nielsen was not so fortunate and required a trip to hospital with collarbone and rib injuries. Birmingham Speedway wish the former British Under-19 Champion well for a speedy recovery.

After a lengthy delay, Poole No.1 Rory Schlein – who had been coasting at the back in the initial staging – won the re-run, and it was clear that with the strength of skipper Danny King and Steve Worrall, the five-man Pirates would still pose a major threat.

Brummies suffered a major setback when Ben Cook joined Worrall for a 5-1 over James Shanes and Ashley Morris in Heat 3, but the same pairing repaired the damage in Heat 5 by racing to a maximum advantage over Schlein and Danyon Hume.

Pirates boss Neil Middleditch had to juggle his resources and was only able to field one rider on two occasions, with the Brummies edging in front when Erik Riss defeated Worrall in Heat 7 with Paco Castagna securing a vital third place.

Jack Thomas picked up an important Heat 8 victory, before a thrilling Heat 9 saw all four riders in contention until Hume fell, but King produced a tremendous ride to blast past Morris on lap three to share the race for the visitors.

They levelled in Heat 10 with Worrall just holding off the last-lap challenge of Harris – but Brummies hit back with a massive 5-1 in Heat 11 as Riss gated and Castagna rode a superb outside line on turns three and four to get the better of Schlein.

King looked unbeatable as he took Heat 13 and was initially joined up-front by Schlein, before Riss used the outside to split the pairing at the end of the first lap – but Harris’s challenge was halted by mechanical trouble, leaving the Brummies just two points up.

However, they won the match in Heat 14 when the fast-gating Castagna was joined by Morris around the outside, getting the better of Cook in the early stages to the delight of the crowd.

And the Pirates were denied even a league point as Harris became the first man to defeat King with a great ride in Heat 15 whilst Riss was passed by King but held off Worrall despite nearly coming to grief on the last lap.

Brummies boss Laurence Rogers said: “That was a superb performance - we said we’d be going for it, and we certainly did, and it was nice to deny them a point in the process!

“They were unlucky with losing Stef, hopefully he’ll make a quick recovery from his injuries, and of course it was tough for them being down to five riders.

“But there were three important 5-1s for us during the meeting, including Ash and Paco in Heat 14 to seal it, and the boys were on it.

“We’ve claimed some good scalps here in recent times, we’re a good side, and although Valentin was struggling a little after the crash in Heat 1, there was consistent scoring throughout the team.”

Brummies now head to Edinburgh on Friday before another massive home match against Redcar next Wednesday.

BIRMINGHAM 49: Paco Castagna 11+1, Erik Riss 11, Chris Harris 9, Ashley Morris 7+1, James Shanes 5+3, Jack Thomas 4, Valentin Grobauer 2+2.
POOLE 41: Danny King 14, Steve Worrall 11, Ben Cook 6+1, Danyon Hume 5+1, Rory Schlein 5, Stefan Nielsen 0, Benjamin Basso r/r.

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