Speedway Report: Birmingham 46 Sheffield Tigers 44 - Last heat defeat for Tigers
Sheffield suffered the agony of a 44-46 defeat in a last-heat decider at Birmingham last night.
The Window Centre Tigers did take a Championship point from the meeting, but that will probably come as scant consolation given that they led until the closing stages – only to be undone by their former rider Paco Castagna and home star Ashley Morris.
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 Danny King, Kyle Howarth and Broc 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.
Adam Ellis won Heats 9 and 10 for the hosts, but Tigers still took a two-point advantage into the closing four races.
However, the meeting began to turn in Heat 12 when Ty Proctor was kept in third place by Morris and Castagna as the Brummies went ahead for the first time – although King and Howarth immediately responded with maximum points in Heat 13.
Morris and Castagna staged a repeat performance in Heat 14 to put the pressure on the Tigers’ big guns again – but 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.
BIRMINGHAM 46: Ashley Morris 13+2, Paco Castagna 11+2, Ashley Morris 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.