Sunday June 17, 2018
BIRMINGHAM’s proud unbeaten run came to an end as they crashed out of the Knockout Cup at high-flying Mildenhall.

The Edwards Plumbing Brummies went down 49-41 in Suffolk losing by five points on aggregate.

With Callum Walker, Layne Cupitt and Arran Butcher again struggling to make any form of impact, scoring just a single point between them, Birmingham were effectively a three-man side.

Without their own top three riders, due to other racing commitments, nothing more could be asked of last minute call-up guests Jon Armstrong and Alfie Bowtell with stand-in teenage skipper Leon Flint also producing another mature performance from the reserve berths.

Cupitt’s frustrating afternoon began in the very first heat when he was disqualified for bringing down home youngster Sam Bebee as he attempted a move up the inside off bend two.

That continued when he pulled up with bike problems in the fifth after Mildenhall had to bring in British sensation Drew Kemp after Danny Halsey was thrown out of the race for touching the tapes.

Heat Seven saw the hosts bag an important first 5-1 of the day which proved crucial in the end result. Flint made a super gate before being picked off by Danny Ayres and Kemp on the outside of bend two in the opening couple of laps.

Mildenhall again challenged for a max in the 11th before Kemp was disqualified for taking Armstrong’s front wheel.

But the talented Kemp showed his impressive character to win the re-staging of the very next race after all four riders were called back following Flint getting sandwiched by the home pair on the opening bends in the initial run.

Armstrong won Heat 13 after forcing an error from the previously unbeaten Ayres on the final lap, and while he and Bowtell were also able to secure another 4-2 in Heat 15 as well, Kemp’s victory in Heat 14 wrapped up progression for the hosts through to the next round.

“So close, yet so far,” said Brummies team manager Laurence Rogers.

“With the way Mildenhall have been riding this season, and the fact we were without our top three, it was always going to need one big effort from us.

“But the boys gave it a real good go and despite losing our first meeting of the season, the team overall can still hold their heads high.

“A big thanks to Jon and Alfie who were brilliant and really got involved with the team spirit we’ve got going.

“Leon should always remember his first ever meeting as captain as well because he was excellent down at reserve again.

“The rest of the boys had a tough afternoon but there was a bit of hard luck along the way as well and we are confident they’ll bounce back.

“Of course it would have been nice to progress, but now we must focus on the National Trophy and the league itself with a busy schedule now ahead of us.”

Birmingham will now look to respond when they host reigning league Champions Belle Vue at Perry Barr on Wednesday (June 20, 7.30).

MILDENHALL 49: Drew Kemp 11+1, Danny Ayres 11, Ryan Kinsley 9, Josh Bailey 9, Sam Bebee 4+2, Danny Halsey 3+1, Matt Marson 2+2.

BIRMINGHAM 41: Jon Armstrong 15, Leon Flint 14+1, Alfie Bowtell 11+1, Callum Walker 1+1, Arran Butcher 0, Layne Cupitt 0, James Shanes R/R.

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