BIRMINGHAM 45 HEATHENS 45

Wednesday August 01, 2018
CRADLEY secured their passage into the National Trophy Final - but they were taken all the way by Birmingham in a 45-45 draw at Perry Barr.

The Heathens were always favourites with a strong line-up in all departments whilst the Brummies continue to struggle with injuries and absences – but the home side put up a terrific fight in a derby thriller.

Tom Bacon and James Shanes took the battle to the visitors with a string of impressive wins, several of them from the back on a spectacular night of racing in front of a big crowd.

But the Heathens’ recently-signed reserves dominated in that department, with a 5-1 from Taylor Hampshire and Richard Andrews in Heat 2 putting them ahead.

Jason Edwards crucially snatched third place from Dan Greenwood in both Heats 3 and 5 which left the Brummies facing an eight-point deficit.

But they notched a 4-2 in Heat 7 when Andrews crashed out and Shanes superbly switched inside Ben Morley in the re-run, and Greenwood recovered to share the points with a race win from the outside gate in the next.

With guest Tom Brennan – in for the injured Leon Flint - defeating Perks in his third outing, Bacon had the home fans on their feet when he rounded Morley to win Heat 10 which narrowed the deficit to four points.

Shanes beat Alfie Bowtell in Heat 11 but the Heathens edged a vital 4-2 in the next with Morley holding off Brennan – although a super 5-1 from Bacon and Shanes in Heat 13 put the pressure back on.

With a 40-38 lead the Heathens were desperate to finish things off in the penultimate race, and they effectively did the job with another fast start from Morley and third place for Hampshire, split by Greenwood.

Bacon and Shanes both completed maximums in the last heat with Perks coming to grief, but the draw took the Heathens into the Trophy Final by the narrowest margin.

Motor Market Heathens team Manager Will Pottinger said: “Before the meeting everyone knew what they needed to do.

“We know a draw or a win would be enough and we always expected a tough battle, particularly in the latter stages.

“The way Tom Bacon and James Shanes were riding for them, we knew heat advantages in Heats 12 and 14 were going to be vital and so it proved.

“It was a close contest and it must have been good for the supporters, but we expected nothing less because these meetings are always no holds barred.

“It was a shame we couldn’t hold on for the victory, but I’m hoping everyone has gone home happy with the draw because it means we’re in the final.”

BIRMINGHAM 45: Tom Bacon 15, James Shanes 13+2, Tom Brennan 9, Dan Greenwood 6, Sheldon Davies 1, Jamie Sealey 1, Tom Spencer (no.8) 0, Callum Walker R/R.

CRADLEY 45: Ben Morley 14, Taylor Hampshire 8+2, Alfie Bowtell 7, Ellis Perks 7, Jason Edwards 5+3, Richard Andrews 4+2, Kyle Bickley R/R.

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