Wednesday June 05, 2019
SHEFFIELD were edged out 46-44 at Birmingham on Wednesday in yet another close Championship contest.

Whereas the Window Centre Tigers had won a last-heat decider at home to Scunthorpe on Sunday, this time they had to settle for one league point as Brummies star Ashley Morris won the crucial final race.

Danny King and Broc Nicol were arguably the Tigers’ star men on the evening whilst skipper Kyle Howarth made a strong return after injury but also fell victim to a bizarre Heat 9 disqualification.

Debutant Josh MacDonald suffered a bruising start to his British career, being fetched down by Birmingham’s Nathan Stoneman in an horrific Heat 2 accident.

Both riders thankfully walked away, and in the next race it was the home duo who tangled as Morris was hit by James Shanes when he locked up.

Tigers completed a 5-1 over Shanes in the re-run to take an early four point lead, but they were unable to take full control despite excellent early wins for King, Howarth and Nicol.

Zaine Kennedy came to grief when defending third place from Shanes in Heat 6, but a super ride from Nicol in the next saw him take the outside route against home debutant Tero Aarnio.

Tigers stretched six points clear with a 4-2 in Heat 8 but a highly unusual next race saw the home side hit back as Howarth was first disqualified for exceeding the time allowance, and then thrown out completely from the handicap for appearing on-track with no racing gloves.

Despite conceding a 5-1 there, Tigers still took a two-point advantage into the closing four races, but the meeting began to turn in Heat 12 when Ty Proctor was kept in third place by Morris and Paco Castagna as the Brummies went ahead for the first time.

King and Howarth immediately responded with maximum points in Heat 13 but Morris and Castagna staged a repeat performance over Nicol in Heat 14 to put the pressure on the Tigers’ big guns again.

And on this occasion Morris made the start from gate two and fended off King’s early challenge, to leave the visitors frustratingly a couple of points short.

Nicol said: “It was another close one and it would have been really good to get an away win, but it was just one of those where we fell short.

“We’ve got to sort it out and stay strong all the way through. There’s just that little something that we’re missing, and I think it’s coming pretty soon for us to start scoring more points as a team.

“I’m happy again with my performance, everything is going good at the moment but there are still a few things that I need to work on because I seem to throw away a couple of points every night that cost me.”

Tigers are back in action at Owlerton on Sunday when league leaders Leicester visit in what promises to be another thriller (5.30pm).

BIRMINGHAM 46: Ashley Morris 13+2, Paco Castagna 11+2, Adam Ellis 11, James Shanes 5+1, Tero Aarnio 5, Nathan Stoneman 1+1, Zach Wajtknecht r/r
SHEFFIELD 44: Danny King 13, Kyle Howarth 8+2, Broc Nicol 8+1, Ty Proctor 6+1, Drew Kemp 4+1, Zaine Kennedy 3+1, Josh MacDonald 2
Championship points: Birmingham 3 Sheffield 1

Share This:   Facebook Twitter