Wednesday October 10, 2012
BIRMINGHAM head into Thursday’s second leg of their Knockout Cup quarter-final in a strong position after a 42-35 win at Belle Vue in the away fixture.

The Selco Brummies led throughout a heavily-delayed encounter at Kirkmanshulme Lane which was eventually brought to a halt with two races remaining due to the curfew.

And their seven-point advantage makes them strong favourites to finish the job on home territory and set up a semi-final clash with local rivals Coventry – the first leg of which would take place at Brandon on Friday.

Brummies established a 7-5 lead in Manchester before a delay of over an hour due to a heavy crash for the Aces’ Danish rider Patrick Hougaard in Heat 3. He came to grief exiting the second bend and was withdrawn from the meeting with a hand injury and a broken nose; and as Hougaard was treated, remedial work was carried out to the circuit with the fence being repaired.

The outcome was a somewhat narrowed circuit with the inside line on turn one brought inwards, and the Brummies were quick to adapt as they reeled off 5-1s in both Heats 3 and 4 to open up a ten-point lead.

When the Aces nominated Artur Mroczka to take on Ben Barker in one of the special KO Cup ‘man on man’ races, Barker was in full control to maintain the Brummies’ lead, but they suffered a setback in Heat 9 when Sebastian Ulamek and Martin Smolinski both came to grief, handing the home side a 5-0.

Ulamek split the home pairing in Heat 10 as the gap was narrowed to three points, with two shared races keeping the Brummies ahead before they made sure of a first-leg lead with a fine 5-1 from Barker and skipper Danny King over Mroczka and James Wright in what turned out to be the final heat of the night.

Brummies will have an unchanged team on show at Perry Barr on Thursday, with the club’s promotion offering specially-reduced admission of £10 for adults, £8 concessions, £3 for children aged 14-17, and under-14s free.

BELLE VUE 35: Craig Cook 8+2, Mark Lemon 8, Artur Mroczka 7+1, Rory Schlein 7, James Wright 5+2, Patrick Hougaard 0, Renat Gafurov r/r.

BIRMINGHAM 42: Josh Auty 10+1, Danny King 9+2, Ben Barker 9+1, Sebastian Ulamek 9+1, Martin Smolinski 5+1, Nicolas Covatti 0, Bjarne Pedersen r/r.

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