MATCH REPORT: Coventry shock winners in Midland Play-Off
Ashmore Park provided the biggest shock result of the regional KO Cup encounters when Coventry snatched an unlikely victory at the expense of hosts Wednesfield in the very last race of the day having trailed the Aces throughout the entire match with a seemingly impossible deficit of 13 points to recover with just 11 races remaining.
Boosted by the return of Lee Aris to the team, the Wednesfield B team started like a train and continued in the same vein throughout the 32 heats, providing 11 race winners. By contrast the A squad could uncharacteristically manage only 3 wins between them as Coventry and Birmingham turned up the heat. The interval saw the Aces on 50 with Coventry on 42 and Birmingham still in with a shout on 40 despite a costly tapes exclusion for newly crowned British Champion Paul Heard on his opening ride from gate 1!
In the opening block of B team heats after the break, Wednesfield extended their advantage to 12 with three more race winners and the writing seemed to be on the wall as they extended their lead to 12. That advantage was halved after a further 4 heats as Coventry provided winners in the shape of Dom Rycharski, Myke Grimes and tactical reserve Cam Gill to give themselves a glimmer of hope.
When Tom Savage took the win in heat 28 and Leicester’s Damian Peleczyk outpaced Tom Bewick for second, Wednesfield still held a 5 point advantage over Coventry by 83-78 and with the Aces off inside grids in the final 4 races they still seemed home and dry. Brandon Whetton chose heat 29 to grab his only win of the day while Coventry had already used up Cam Gill’s 4 rides and Dan Drewett could only manage 2 points from his grid 3 so the gap increased to 7 with 3 heats to go.
Rycharski took his third win of the day in heat 30 and with Ricky Johnson getting the better of Matt Smith for second place, the gap was back to 5 at 89-84.
The presence of Birmingham big guns Chris Timms and Paul Heard on gate 2 in the final two races started the nerves jangling across the home side of the pits in view of the history between the two clubs and when Timms and Chris Jewkes clashed in heat 31 the gap was reduced to 2 points as Adam Watson grabbed the win and Kev Burns relegated Jewkes to last place.
The stage was set for a dramatic last heat decider which saw Myke Grimes speed away to complete his 4 ride maximum ahead of Paul Heard while Leicester played their part in the final drama for the second consecutive race as Craig Marchant relegated Lee Kemp to last place to give Coventry an unlikely win to the great surprise and joy of their fans who could scarcely believe what had just happened as their thoughts turned to the national final at Astley on September 22nd.
COVENTRY 92 – Myke Grimes 16, Dom Rycharski 15, Cameron Gill 15, Adam Watson 10, Kyle Barlow 10, Sam Hardie 9, Tom Savage 9, Dan Drewett 4, Matt Lawrence 4
WEDNESFIELD 91 – Lee Aris 15, Jordan Holdcroft 15, Tom Bewick 14, Matt Smith 12, Tyler Bould 10, Brandon Whetton 10, Chris Jewkes 8, Lee Kemp 6, Harry Everiss 1
BIRMINGHAM 75 – Chris Timms 14, Ricky Johnson 12, Scott Millward 10, Paul Heard 10, Paul Timms 10, Mark Winwood 7, Jake Steel 7, Phil Widdas 5
LEICESTER 58 – Kevin Burns 11, Mark Whitehead 11, Damian Peleczyk 10, Craig Marchant 7, Dave Frith 6, Luke Whitehead 5, Michelle Whitehead 4, Norman Venson 4