MATCH REPORT: Birmingham keep the pressure on at the top

The Birmingham Monarchs travelled to Leicester for Midland League action in all three divisions. The Birmingham first team were without captain Chris Timms, but this certainly did not leave the team weak.

The first four heats consisted of three Birmingham 6-4s and a 7-2 from Mark Winwood and Andy James, following a tape exclusion for Leicester’s Mark Whitehead, which put Birmingham ahead 14-25.

The following three heats all went in Leicester’s favour with Mark Whitehead picking up a win and Mike Baldock picking up two wins. Two tape exclusions from Birmingham in heats 5 and 6 allowed Leicester to claw back some points, bringing the score to 36-41. The rest of the heats were all either drawn or won by Birmingham, allowing them to extend their lead to a final 77-99.

Birmingham’s Ricki Johnson and Scott Millward rode well in heat 16 earning a 7-3, but also rode well throughout the meeting and Carl Winwood showed some great team riding and picked up two bonus points from heats 9 and 15. Although Birmingham took the win, the Leicester riders fought hard with some notable performances from Mike Baldock in heats 5 and 7, and Michelle Whitehead, who displayed why she is one of the best female riders in the country, beating some of Birmingham’s top riders.

Norman Venson 10, Mike Baldock 15, Craig Marchant 12+1, Damian Pelaczyk 7+1, Nicky Whitehead 7, Mark Whitehead 12+1, Michelle Whitehead 8, Luke Whitehead 6

Scott Millward 15+1, Matt Smith 14, Nathan Groves 14+1, Ricki Johnson 17, Mark Winwood 9+1, Andy James 13+1, Carl Winwood 8+2, Ewan Hancox 9

In the second team racing both teams were short of riders, resulting in first team riders being used. The first 4 heats were all drawn with Mark Winwood, Paul Timms and Ieuan Payne picking up the wins.

Heat 5 saw the first advantage go to Leicester with a 7-3 from Luke and Nicky Whitehead. Nicky rode tactically in the second team earning himself four bonus points. Birmingham quickly responded with a 7-3 from Ewan Hancox and Ieuan Payne, levelling the score at 30-30.

Another two drawn heats showed that either team could take the win, and it was the Birmingham Monarchs who opened up the lead with another fantastic 7-3 from the young pairing of Hancox and Payne. Heat 11 saw Birmingham extend their lead with Paul Timms and Emily Pitt taking a 6-4 advantage after a tough first bend battle with Lucy Whitehead and Sophie Middleton.

The nominated race saw a 6-4 win to the Birmingham pairing of Payne and Pitt, which concluded Ieuan Payne’s racing with a maximum score of 20. This last race led to a final score of 61-69 to Birmingham.

Lucy Whitehead 12+2, Sophie Middleton 9, Liam Doughty 9+1, Michelle Whitehead 9+2, Nicky Whitehead 9+4, Luke Whitehead 13

Mark Winwood 16, Natalie Timms 4, Emily Pitt 7, Paul Timms 14, Ewan Hancox 8+2, Ieuan Payne 20

The third division racing saw Birmingham borrow two Leicester riders as they only have 4 under 14s, however the points would not count to Birmingham’s final score. All of the heats with the Birmingham youngsters were 7-3s with excellent team riding from Marc Phipps and Connor Steele together and Billy and Ryan Winwood together, meaning the pairings were unbeaten and each gained maximum points.

Birmingham borrowed Leicester’s Chloe Whitehead and Charmaine Wells who scored 5 points in each race, but as these could not be counted, Leicester gained 5-0 heat advantages in those 4 races. The Leicester youths fought hard against the Birmingham team and kept the pressure on throughout the meeting, resulting in a final score of 47-63 to the Birmingham monarchs.

Max Wells 8, Rory Hayward 7+1, Sophie Sinclair-Black 6+1, Kyle Wells 9, Honey Whitehead 8, Sian Raynor 6+2

Marc Phipps 15+5, Connor Steele 16, Billy Winwood 17+3, Ryan Winwood 15+1, Charmaine Wells 4, Chloe Whitehead 16