Poole paid Birmingham the ultimate compliment by bolstering up their already strong line up with former world champion Marcin Symanski and former European Champion Maciej Ganczarek – their aim being to inflict upon Birmingham their first defeat of the season.
For the Monarchs Phil Widdas went with the same eight that triumphed away at Wednesfield last Saturday, including their own two residents Poles Dominic Rycharski and Konrad Pietak, and continuing with two strong reserves in Chris Timms and Paul Heard.
Amazingly enough with the track having been under water earlier in the week it needed the short sharp shower half an hour before tapes up to make it a perfect racing circuit.
Heat 1 saw Ganczarek race from the tapes but Dominic Rycharski and Jack Harrold rode a solid race to keep British under 16 champion Arron Morgan at the back. Similarly in heat 2 as Greg Gluckowski shot from the start but partner Tom Colling was shut out by messrs Wadhams and Groves – two races gone and all square.
Heat 3 and Birmingham replace Scott Millward with Paul Heard to go against Symanski – Heard rode a hard first turn against Marcin and essentially that was that as the former world number one slipped further behind as the race went on – with Konrad Pietak beating Leighton Glover for 3rd Birmingham opened a 2 point lead. This was doubled next time out as Dominic Rycharski outpaced Ganczarek and Chris Timms beat Oli Sidwick. Heard then beat Tom Reed from grid 4 in heat 5 and that race was halved.
Birmingham had some good fortune next time out as Gluckowski slipped on the third bend gifting them a 6-4 and after six heats they led 33-27. However they then returned the favour in heat 7 as Rycharski and Harrold got into all sorts of trouble on the first bend gifting Symanski and Glover a 7-3 and bringing the lead back to two.
A lethargic looking Wadhams won his only race of the afternoon in heat 8 as Ganczarek suffered his second defeat in eeth but with Arron Morgan beating Nathan Groves the lead stayed at two. Heat 9 saw Poole make a tactical change using reserve Tom Reed for Oli Sidwick and he made a strong pairing with Greg Gluckowski – however how many times have things not gone to plan when Tom fell under his own steam crossing the starting line – with Greg already struggling the Birmingham pair of Millward and Timms took full advantage – 7-3 Birmingham and interval scores 48-42.
Heat 10 saw Heard beat Reed for the second time and Pietak beat Colling so the lead stretched to eight. Heat 11 looked good for the home side as manager Widdas replaced Groves with Timms making it Timms and Wadhams against Symanski and Glover – as expected Symanski gated, but rather than ride to team orders and settle for the 5-5 the Birmingham pair made a complete mess of it and gifted the Comets a 7-3 to half the lead – needless to say the team manager was not happy.
Things were settled next time out as Dominic raced to his second win of the afternoon this time over Gluckowski and Jack Harrold beat Tom Colling for the odd point. Ganczarek got back to winning ways in heat 13 but Scott Millward rode and excellent race to move Arron Morgan out of the way to allow his partner Pietak for another shared heat. Wadhams and Timms were out again in heat 14 and did slightly better only conceding a 6-4 but the lead was back down to four. Heat 15 saw Heard v Reed for the third time and for the third time the Monarch took the flag – Reed with two on the trot fell on the second bend later on in the race gifting Birmingham a 6-4 so once again stretching the lead to six.
Heat 16 had a restart and as thye came around for the second tie of asking it was Tom Colling leading followed by Jacj Harrold with Scott Millward keeping Maciej Ganczarek at the back – unfortunately Scott lost his front wheel coming out of the 3rd bend on the 3rd lap and Ganczarek had nowhere to go but straight into him. Referee Al Bentley, who had a fine match, had no option but to exclude Scott and the two Comets made no mistake in the re-run to claim a 7-2 win and reduce the deficit to 1. Heat 17 saw Gluckowski shoot from the start as Rycharski and Wadhams settled for the 5-5 to go into the last race Birmingham 85, Poole 84.
And so heat 18 – Symanski and Morgan for the visitors and Heard and Timms bought in by Birmingham to try and claim the required 5-5 for the win. Heard went off one and having won four from four he had no intention of settling for a 5-5 behind Marcin – from the gate he flew and as Marcin tried to make a move on Timms he came off – the Monarchs raced away for a 7-3 to claim a 92 – 87 win and keep their unbeaten start to the season intact.
A fantastic meeting and for Birmingham a great result – and it is fair to say the best team did win. For Poole the move to fly in two world stars certainly added to the quality of the meeting but at the end of the day they both fell short against the Birmingham heat leaders and their presence certainly made the home side far more determined to win.
Birmingham 92: Dominic Rycharski 15, Jack Harrold 9+1, Nathan Groves 6, Marcus Wadhams 13+2, Scott Millward 8+1, Konrad Pietak 11, Chris Timms 10+2, Paul Heard 20.
Poole 87: Marciej Ganczarek 18, Arron Morgan 9+1, Greg Gluckowski 14, Tom Colling 9+1, Marcin Symanski 16, Leighton Glover 11+1, Oli Sidwick 1, Tom Reed 9+1
Elite League Combination result
Birmingham 51: Carl Winwood 0 (withdrawn due to injury), Mark Winwood 14, Ewan Hancock 10, Phil Widdas 9, Paul Timms 8+1, Richard Stephenson 4, Reece Winwood 3, Jake Ryan 3.
Poole 78: Wil Bristow 14+1, Arron Smith 12+3, Jay Briggs 11, Arron Morgan 16, Oli Sidwick 15, Shane Hamner 10+1.
The forecasted bad weather held off and the sun came out to shine as this BCTG Elite League fixture got underway with the first heat going the visitors way with a 6-4 heat win from Steve Harris and Mark Carmicheal against Aces Lee Aris and Ricki Johnson.
The next race saw Wednesfield's young star Matt Haddock excluded for a start tapes infringement leaving his team partner Gavin Wheeler to fend off the Hammer's Lewis Osborne and Errol Thaw and salvage a 4-5 result.
Heat 3 saw Horspath utilise their sub Lewis Bates to good effect teaming up with Mark Boaler and gaining a 7-3 advantage against Aces Mark Griffiths and Luke Draisey and they followed that up with a 6-4 race win from Shaun Rudman being chased by the Aces skipper Chris Jewkes and a fine pass from Carmicheal on Lee Aris relegating him to the back.
The next four heats were drawn 5-5's and then the Aces struck back in heat nine just before the interval with a 7-3 after bringing their sub in Scott Doherty to replace Draisey who was suffering with an old injury he partnered CJ against Rudman and Osborne, half time score 42-47.
The second half the meeting got under way with a 5-5 and a fine race win from Mark Griffiths, but from that point on the Aces started to let the meeting slip from their grasp as Horspath proofed just a little bit stronger side on the day with the Aces missing their British under 19 champion Ben Mould away on vacation.
In the second period the hammers gained points steadily with three 6-4's and a 7-3 and another three drawn heats the Aces only response came when it was too late in the final race of the match with another win for Aces super fast starter Mark Griffiths partnered by Scott Doherty for a 6-4 consolation win over Harris and Boaler.
These same two teams meet again next Sunday in the first semi-final of the British Knockout Cup , an 11.00am start up at Hull CSC.
Wednesfield Aces 83: Gavin Wheeler 18, Mark Griffiths 17, Scott Doherty 13, Lee Aris 13, Chris Jewkes 10+2, Ricki Johnson 6+1, Matt Haddock 3, Luke Draisey 3.
Horspath Hammers 96: Shaun Rudman 15+1, Steve Harris 15+1, Mark Boaler 15+1, Mark Carmicheal 14+1, Lewis Osborne 13, Lewis Bates 12+1, Errol Thaw 6+3, Chris Osborne 6+1.
Elite League combination result
Wednesfield 64: Ricki Johnson 16, Matt Haddock 12+2, Sam Parr 12+2, Tom Haddock 11+1, Jordan Holdcroft 7, Mick Aris 3, Dave Meanley 2, Charlie Ellitts 1.
Horspath 61+12 penalty pts: Simmon Munden 13+1, Mike Burges 12, Lee Clark 12, Zak Payne 8+2, Wayne Clark 7, Richard Harrison 6+2, Mark Janes 3.
Cancelled - waterlogged track