Friday September 07, 2018
BIRMINGHAM breathed new life into their play-off chase with a vital 50-39 win at Plymouth on Friday.

The Brummies ended a run of three straight defeats by taking victory in Devon, and now have what amounts to a ‘free hit’ at runaway leaders Mildenhall on Saturday before heading into a crunch clash with top-four rivals Coventry on Sunday lunchtime.

After a wretched run of injury woes, they finally found fortune on their side at the St Boniface Arena as the Devils hit self-destruct in Heat 2.

The home reserves were sat on a 5-1 but both Kelsey Dugard and Adam Sheppard crashed to hand the Brummies a 5-0 and a massive early points swing – and after Dugard came down again in Heat 4, he was withdrawn from the meeting.

By that stage, the visitors were seven points up, and although the hosts responded with a pair of 4-2s, guest Tom Brennan combined with Leon Flint for a 5-1 in Heat 7 after Plymouth’s Henry Atkins suffered early mechanical trouble.

Brummies were briefly pegged back by a home 5-1 in Heat 9, but 15-year-old Flint performed superbly in the next to lower the colours of Plymouth No.1 Ellis Perks for the first time.

With skipper Tom Bacon fending off Richard Andrews in Heat 11, Birmingham had got the lead back to seven to effectively leave the Devils needing snookers, as they had already used up their stronger rider-replacement options ahead of Heat 13.

And then Perks compounded their problems by breaking the tapes, and he was unable to catch Bacon or Brennan in the re-run.

Securing all four league points could also prove crucial in the final shakedown, and Brummies effectively ensured that by sharing Heat 14, before Atkins summed up Plymouth’s night by crashing out of the last race.

Bacon defeated Perks for a 4-2 in the re-run taking Birmingham to 50 on the night – and their season stays very much alive.

Manager Laurence Rogers said: “It’s a massive win for us, we really needed the four points and it’s put us right back in contention.

“For the first time this season we got a bit of luck with what happened in Heat 2, and it was a really hard-working performance from the whole team with the guests all doing us proud. They all rode well together.

“Tom Bacon was superb as usual with 16, Leon had a great ride to beat Ellis Perks, and Josh Embleton worked really hard to get eight paid nine, and they were well-earned and important points.”

PLYMOUTH 39: Henry Atkins 12, Ellis Perks 11, Richard Andrews 9+2, Ryan Terry-Daley 6+1, Adam Sheppard 1, Kelsey Dugard 0, Tim Webster r/r
BIRMINGHAM 50: Tom Bacon 16, Tom Brennan 12+1, Josh Embleton 8+1, Leon Flint 7+1, Ethan Spiller 5+1, Saul Bulley 2+1, James Shanes r/r

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