Saturday June 30, 2018
BIRMINGHAM’S winning start to their National League campaign came to an end with a 49-41 defeat at Eastbourne on Saturday.

The Edwards Plumbing Brummies kept in touch throughout the meeting at the tight Arlington circuit, but a lack of lower-order strength proved their undoing.

Tom Bacon and Danyon Hume carded a series of race victories underlining their development as top heat-leaders at this level, but they were denied a league point in a frustrating end to the match in Heat 15.

Brummies held the hosts to a level scoreline after seven races, with an Eastbourne 5-1 in Heat 2 immediately matched by the visitors in the next.

James Shanes and Leon Flint secured the maximum advantage with Flint coming out on top in a tough battle with Eagles captain Mark Baseby.

With Bacon and Hume winning their opening two rides, the Eagles finally defeated a Birmingham heat-leader in Heat 7 when Georgie Wood took advantage of a slow start from Shanes.

An Eagles 5-1 in Heat 8 always looked possible on paper, and so it proved as Kelsey Dugard and Jason Edwards put the home side back ahead.

Hume reeled off his third win in Heat 9 but Wood’s victory over Shanes in the next, with the home side having initially gated on a 5-1, put them six points to the good.

Youngster Tom Brennan lowered Bacon’s colours in Heat 11 with a fine passing move, although Callum Walker salvaged a useful third place point, but the Eagles extended the margin to eight with a 4-2 in Heat 12.

Bacon gained revenge over Brennan and also headed Wood in Heat 13 but Hume was squeezed out for the first time, and another share followed in Heat 14 with a great ride by Flint to hold Edwards at bay.

That meant the Brummies needed an advantage from the last race to snatch a league point, and the prospects initially looked good as Bacon hit the front holding off pressure from both Eastbourne riders.

However, Wood made his way through to lead before Brennan’s attempt to follow him through ended with him clattering into Bacon and bringing the Birmingham skipper down.

Whilst Brennan was correctly disqualified, the outcome was no real penalty to the Eagles as the race was awarded with Wood the winner, leaving the Brummies just short.

Brummies boss Laurence Rogers said: “We were so close to getting at least a point out of it, but you can’t win them all.

“Obviously it was tough at reserve where we only scored one point, and Callum had two struggling rides before he was better in his last two when he got the set-up right.

“Credit to our three heat-leaders who put us in the position we were in, and it was Leon’s first match in the main body of the team so perhaps he was slightly nervous, but it’s hard to judge that in a difficult away match.

“That’s our first defeat in official fixtures apart from the KO Cup, so we’ll regroup quickly and head to Cradley on Monday try and secure our National Trophy Final position.

“We were close enough to be encouraged for if we end up having to come back here, when we may be in a stronger position at reserve especially, so it’s a meeting we can take some heart from despite coming away with nothing.”

EASTBOURNE 49: Georgie Wood 11+1, Tom Brennan 9+1, Kelsey Dugard 8+2, Jason Edwards 8+2, Mark Baseby 7, Nick Laurence 6+3, Charley Powell r/r.
BIRMINGHAM 41: Tom Bacon 13, Danyon Hume 10+1, James Shanes 9, Leon Flint 6+2, Callum Walker 2+1, Arran Butcher 1, Jamie Bursill 0.


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