MATCH REPORT: Birmingham win opening match of the National League

Report and pictures from Amber Parr

The early season opener of the National League saw Kesgrave Panthers make the trip to Birmingham Monarchs to race on a moist track. Birmingham won the toss electing for inside grids in the first heat.
Heat 1 gave debuts for both teams, newly signed Kesgrave rider Zac Payne faced his former team mate Will Jeffery (Birmingham) in a competitive shared heat. Birmingham’s Ricki Johnson and Paul Heard took maximum points in heat 2 to give Birmingham a lead they hoped to maintain. The Jolly brothers fought hard in heat 3 with Ryker taking the win and Torsten battling for 2nd with Mark Winwood to bring the gap back to 2.
After another shared heat came the excitement of heat 5. The mature pairing of Leon Mower and Matt Parr left it till the last corner to secure a heat advantage for Kesgrave and level the match 25 – 25. Birmingham hit straight back with a 6-4 of their own From Will and Nathan Groves. Heat 7 saw Birmingham strengthen their line up bringing Chris Timms in from reserve resulting in a win for Timms and a shared heat. Returning the supersub favour in heat 8, Kesgrave pulled in double British champion, Lily Parr. With words of encouragement from the ref she took grid 1, 3 points and a shared heat between the teams. The race before the interval was pivotal for the match, Heard and Johnson took a 7-3 win to make the gap 6 heading in to the break, (48 – 42).

Birmingham continued to push in heat 10, working hard for a 7-3 win over the Kesgrave father and son pairing of Matt and Charlie. 2 more races the shared points saw Birmingham head into heat 13, 10 points up on Kesgrave. Jeffery and Timms clocked up another heat advantage with a 6-4 to make the difference 12. Kesgrave elected to make heat 14 their super heat. The new rule sees 1 nominated rider scoring double points for that race. Kesgrave nominated Torsten Jolly who then became the target of Winny and Groves. The result being 8-4 in Kesgrave’s favour with the gap now down to 8. Heat 15 saw Paul Heard, for the 2nd time in as many days trying to shake off the persistent Charlie Parr. A sprint to the line had Paul take 4 points, Charlie 3, Connor Steel 2 and Matt Parr sampling the soft shale once again. A hotly contested heat 16 ensued with Will taking a tumble with Mower going down with him. Will was quicker to remount as they fought for the minor points, another 6-4 to Birmingham. A shared heat 17 with a solid 2nd place for Jake Steel took us into the final race of the day with Birmingham 12 points up 92 – 80. A fantastic race to end the meeting with action at every corner. Zac Payne frustrated Chris Timms to allow Under 14 British champion , Ryker Jolly the chance to hunt down his senior counterpart Paul Heard. Paul took the win to end on a shared heat and a 97 – 85 victory for Birmingham.
Thanks to Colin Humphreys, Paul Timms and Michelle Steel for a great meeting as well as Andy Parfitt for making the decisions on the green.

National League 2023 underway and both teams looking forward to the next round