Wednesday September 08, 2021
BIRMINGHAM saw their impressive home winning run ended with a 48-42 defeat to Redcar on a controversial night at Perry Barr.

The Brummies had raced into an eight-point lead before an extensive delay for track work following representations from the visitors.

With conditions markedly different upon the resumption, the Bears produced a fast-gating display with Lewis Kerr and Charles Wright in fine form to turn the meeting around and secure the win which books their play-off place.

Brummies opened up with two 5-1s, both races won by Paco Castagna, with skipper Chris Harris storming inside Wright into the third bend of Heat 1.

Kerr clocked one of the fastest times of the season in Heat 3 but after Erik Riss won the next race with Jack Thomas third, SCB referee Barbara Horley was called to inspect the track by the Bears’ management.

Brummies promoter David Mason confirmed his riders would race on regardless of whether there was any opposition, but the delay changed matters completely.

The home side were also out of luck in Heat 6 when Harris and Thomas gated on a 5-1 which would have rebuilt their eight-point lead, only for Redcar guest Jason Edwards to run out of room on turn two.

Edwards was the only faller in the entire meeting and quickly re-mounted, but the red lights immediately came on with all four riders allowed back in the re-run – in which Edwards and Michael Palm Toft protected a 3-3 behind Harris despite the best efforts of Thomas.

Brummies still led by four after a 5-1 from Thomas and Ashley Morris in Heat 8, but Morris then punctured on the last lap of Heat 9 as the advantage was cut to two points, and a rapid start from James Sarjeant saw him team up with Wright for a 5-1 in Heat 11 as the Bears went in front for the first time.

The visitors kept providing race winners with Jake Allen also fast from the start in Heat 12, whilst Wright and Kerr took the next two as the Brummies were left 40-44 down.

Harris then produced a typically charging effort to end Kerr’s maximum hopes from the back in Heat 15, and got up with Wright on the finish line only for the decision to go in the Redcar skipper’s favour.

Birmingham boss Laurence Rogers said: “I wonder whether if Redcar had been winning, they would still have complained.

“To be honest, there was very little wrong with the track. We know there’s a few bumps and bits, but the riders are experienced enough to ride those – but they (Redcar) wanted the track as they wanted it, and amazingly by the end they enjoyed it by the look of it.

“We also had dust, which we’ve avoided in recent weeks, because John (Priest) had to do what the referee decreed he had to do, which wasn’t what we wanted.

“Redcar had their gating gloves on afterwards, and we didn’t. There was a little bit of controversy as well with Heat 6, a rider falls off on the second bend and it’s all four back – they said the rider in blue took him out, but the rider in blue had the right to take his line at that stage.

“It was unlucky for Ash in Heat 9 when he had a puncture, and whilst I know Heat 15 was close it did look like Bomber had clearly got through for the win.

“It just wasn’t going our way, but we’ve got to forget today now, start again and go to Edinburgh and get a win in the KO Cup, and then hit them next week in the league.”

Despite the defeat, the Brummies’ play-off hopes are still far from over, and they now face a huge home meeting against direct rivals Edinburgh next Wednesday, with victory essential.

Before that, they travel back to Armadale on Friday in the first leg of their KO Cup quarter-final.

BIRMINGHAM 42: Paco Castagna 11+1, Chris Harris 10+2, Jack Thomas 7+2, Erik Riss 5, Ashley Morris 5, James Shanes 4+1, Valentin Grobauer r/r.
REDCAR 48: Lewis Kerr 15+1, Charles Wright 13, Jake Allen 6+1, Michael Palm Toft 6+1, Jason Edwards 5, James Sarjeant 3+1, Jordan Jenkins 0.

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