MATCH REPORT: McLaughlin hospitalised as Monarchs come back to win

Birmingham had to fight back after a slow start to the meeting to finally edge out a spirited Coventry side at Hearsall Common tonight.

The home side had to overcome the loss of veteran rider Joe McLaughlin, after a dreadful crash in heat 5. Whilst challenging for the lead he clipped the back wheel of race leader Paul Timms and fell heavily head first into the back straight. With obvious swelling to the face, an ambulance was immediately called and McLaughlin was whisked away for further checks. All at the Birmingham club wish Joe a speedy recovery.

It was Coventry who started the strongest, with a superb maximum in heat 1 catching Hodgkinson unaware. A further maximum followed and saw the home side take a 7 point advantage. With a run of drawn heats at the halfway stage Coventry led 41-37.

It was Birmingham who opened strongly in the second half, a clever pass from Payne to move into second after 2 laps, protected race leader Widdas for the rest of the race, this was followed by a Timms/Hancox 7-3 to see the Monarchs move into the lead for the first time in the match by 47 – 51 after 10 heats.

After Charlie Barnett was excluded for use of the leg in heat 12, Spencer Sawbridge rode an intelligent ride to deny Payne, however the scoreline was extended to 55-62.

Payne got caught out on the opening bend of Heat 14 trying to help Natalie Timms, that saw both Coventry riders pass him underneath, which set up a last heat decider with the scores at 67-70. Birmingham had the inside grids and whilst Hodgkinson gated clear to race away Josh Marsh chased throughout, meanwhile Hancox rode a good ride to hold third.

It was a hard fought win for the Monarchs but the young Coventry side (who all were 17 or younger) can take plenty of positives from their performance. For Birmingham it was good to see Paul Timms back on form with a paid maximum whilst both Hancox and Payne are both improving with every meeting. Natalie Timms making all the difference with 5 points that were vital in the end.

COVENTRY 71 – Josh Marsh 14+1, Ollie Morris 12+1, Jake Slatter 8+1, Matt Hambridge 14+1, Spencer Sawbridge 12+1, Charlie Barnett 11+3, Joe McLaughlin withdrawn.

BIRMINGHAM 76 – Steve Hodgkinson 18, Natalie Timms 5, Paul Timms 19+1, Phil Widdas 7, Ewan Hancox 13+2, Ieaun Payne 14+1.