MATCH REPORT: Coventry go down fighting
Coventry XL Motors Sabres Cycle Speedway fought all the way against their local rivals Birmingham Monarchs in their first Midland League home match of the season on Sunday, but ultimately succumbed to the strength of their neighbours.
Despite the weather bringing many challenges over the winter, the track was in supreme condition and provided some excellent racing by both sides, and many well executed passes.
Coventry lined up with the same 8 that defeated East Park in their previous fixture, Mike Baldock and Jim Bailey making their home debuts for the Sabres.
Birmingham were at near full strength, with only Scott Millward missing from a handy looking side.
The tense encounter saw the sides deadlocked until heat 6, as Baldock (twice) and Grimes took heat wins for the hosts, while Timms and Hancox replied for the visitors.
Birmingham broke away in style in heats 6 and 7, taking two 7-3s and pulling an 8 point cushion to undo the Sabres’ early hard work. Order was restored with two more dead heats, to give Birmingham a healthy lead at the break.
Coventry came out fighting again in the second half, as Matt Lawrence pulled off a sublime pass on Paul Timms, who fell hard on the final bend in the process.
Sam Hardie came to grief battling with Luke Draisey as Grimes raced away from Chris Timms in heat 11, giving the visitors an extra point lead with the race awarded.
Two more 5-5s followed until Matt Lawrence and Myke Grimes scored Coventry’s only heat advantage of the match with a 6-4 over Paul Timms and Luke Draisey.
However, the Monarchs hit back with a 7-2, as Cameron Gill fell heavily whilst chasing Ricki Johnson. Despite his best efforts in the re-run, Dan Drewett was unable to find away past the former European Junior Champion. By this point, rain was making for slippy grids and a greasy surface.
There was time for one more exciting race though, as Jim Bailey battled with Chris Timms in the final heat of the day, much to the enjoyment of the spectators watching. Bailey passed Timms, letting Lawrence (replacing Grimes) through, only for Timms to get past Bailey, before Bailey dived up the inside on the third bend as Timms washed out on wet loose shale, taking both riders off in a spectacular crash.
The race was awarded and it capped off a highly entertaining fixture between the two sides.
Coventry rode with heart and limited the damage throughout most of the meeting. However, when the Monarchs landed blows, they landed hard, the three maximum heat advantages left Coventry with no answer but for one 6-4 in heat 12.
Danny Drewett 7, Mike Baldock 17, Myke Grimes 16, Sam Hardie 6, Kyle Barlow 11, Jim Bailey 11+3, Cameron Gill 6+3, Matt Lawrence 8+2
Ewan Hancox 16+1, Nathan Groves 12+2, Ricki Johnson 16+1, Mark Winwood 16+2, Chris Times 13+1, Luke Draisey 14+1, Jake Steele 5+1, Paul Timms 4+1
Coventry’s youthful division 2 side recorded their second win of the campaign, with 8 unique riders, by 79-71.
As rain came down heavily, the track held up well. The young Sabres did not concede a heat advantage all match and only ran 4 last places of the 15 heats, contributing greatly to their victory.
Tom Savage raced unbeaten but received strong back up by all his team. A special mention for Jony Middleton who raced impressively and made some great passes against riders older than him.
Tom Savage 16, Joe Andrews 8+1, Ben Wells 8+2, Owen Gregory 12+1, Lee Gregory 13+1, Sammi Marsh 9+2, Jony Middleton 10+2, Amy Baynes 3
Jake Steele 11, Natalie Timms 5+1, Steve Hodgkinson 14+1, Josh Hill 10, Ryan Winwood 6+1, Billy Winwood 18, Connor Steele 6, Rebekah Humphries 1
The division three match was a tough affair for Coventry’s youngest riders, with Birmingham tracking two U16 BYJL riders who raced to easy victories.
The Sabres put in the effort though, which nearly pulled off on occasions. Jude Wilcockson riding a superb race to keep Brimingham’s fast Rebekah Humphries behind him, only to wash out on the third lap.
Coventry’s older riders, Lewis Middleton, Tom Pearson and Jack Reynolds top scored for the home side, with Connor Steele, Billy Winwood and Ryan Winwood all racing unbeaten for the Monarchs.
Lewis Middleton 11, Jude Wilcockson 5+1, Autumn Smith 5+2, Tom Pearson 10+1, Alex Cunningham 5+1, Jack Reynolds 11, Ruary Hughes 4+2
Billy Winwood 8, Ryan Winwood 11+1, Rebekah Humphries 13+3, Charlie Buet-Gannon 14, Connor Steele 16, Samuel Price 4, Issy Buet-Gannon 3
The next action at Hearsall Common is round 2 of the Coventry League on Sunday 29 April, 1pm start.
Photos by Paul Devine.