Friday May 30, 2014
BIRMINGHAM suffered an agonising 44-46 defeat at local rivals Coventry on Friday – despite leading for almost the entire meeting.

The Selco Brummies were eight points ahead with three races to go at Brandon but a big finish from the home side saw them snatch victory, with former Birmingham rider Chris Harris playing a crucial role.

It was harsh on the Brummies, who were reduced to five riders when guest Josh Grajczonek was taken down by Ryan Fisher in Heat 6 and forced out of the rest of the meeting with facial injuries.

Grajczonek had already raced to an impressive win in Heat 3 and although Fisher too was ruled out with shoulder damage, the Bees could cover his remaining rides with other members of their top five under the injury rider-replacement rule – a facility not open to the Brummies as they were already using rider-replacement for Adam Skornicki.

But with a lead to defend from the early stages, which included 5-1s in Heats 1 and 3, the Brummies maintained a cushion of six to eight points throughout the mid-stages of the meeting, despite Simon Lambert losing a certain win in Heat 9 with mechanical failure.

Lambert’s performance was one of several encouraging signs for the Brummies, and he deserved more than four points as he was fast and competitive throughout.

With Daniel Nermark giving a superb display, dropping just one point in five outings, and Danny King and Nico Covatti chipping in well the Brummies looked to have enough for victory.

Covatti’s ride to split Harris and Hans Andersen in Heat 13 appeared to be the match-winner – but he was then surprisingly on the wrong end of a 5-1 against Jason Garrity and Lewis Blackbird in Heat 14 as the pressure grew.

Brummies still led 43-41 but had the unfavoured gates for the decider, and that finale did go against them as Harris and Andersen shot away, with Nermark’s fierce challenge on turn three being immediately rebuffed by the Dane who then raced clear.

King said: “We were really banking on Heat 14 because there was always going to be a lot of pressure in the last one against Bomber and Hans, so it would have been nice to seal it in 14 but that wasn’t to be.

“I really felt we deserved to win tonight, especially with losing Josh so early on, but we didn’t give up fighting. We tried our hardest and at least we got a point out of it.”

COVENTRY 46: Chris Harris 12+1, Hans Andersen 9+1, Jason Garrity 9+1, Lewis Blackbird 9+1, Kyle Howarth 5, Oliver Greenwood 2+1, Ryan Fisher 0.

BIRMINGHAM 44: Daniel Nermark 15, Danny King 9+3, Nico Covatti 7, Josh Bates 6+2, Simon Lambert 4, Josh Grajczonek 3, Adam Skornicki r/r.

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