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By Jamie Arrowsmith Wednesday 25 September 2013 Updated: 02/10 17:21
Wolverhampton 44 Birmingham Brummies 46
Elite League Play-Off Semi-Final
BRUMMIES put one foot in the Elite League final at Monmore Green on Monday night when recording a narrow victory against their local rivals.
Led by gutsy performances from both Jason Doyle and Chris Harris, Brummies had the upper hand all night in front of packed terraces and will hope to complete the job on Monday night when the second leg takes place at Perry Barr.
Brummies made the perfect start with Doyle and Martin Smolinski holding off both Niels-Kristian Iversen and Ricky Wells in the first turn to win from the gate.
The hosts hit back with successive race advantages, but Ben Barker was scrapping for every possible point and in heat three he won one which effectively sealed the meeting.
Chris Harris struck for the first time in heat four and by time the first track grade took place, the sides were locked together at 12-12.
Three successive 3-3s followed before Barker got another throw of the dice in heat seven when initially second, only for team-mate and skipper Danny King to fall in the first turn and cause a stoppage.
Barker made the most of the restart and took the three points, meaning Wolves were denied any opportunity of taking a lead.
A tight first bend with Miskowiak falling meant a restart was necessary in heat eight. Harris held off Fredrik Lindgren under immense pressure from the Swede as Covatti filled in for third, meaning Brummies led by a couple.
King nipped inside Wells out of bend four to steal the heat nine win with Iversen taking a heavy fall mid-race meaning Barker picked up the pieces for another 4-2.
Replacement Andrew Tully performed well and partnered Doyle to a 3-3 in heat 11 with damage limitation the key issue as Adam Skornicki stormed to his first heat win of the night.
A possible way back into the match for Wolves was presented in heat 12 as Klindt and Lindgren out rode King and Covatti to bring the home side within two points with three heats remaining.
Iversen took the flag ahead of Harris in a terrific tussle throughout all four laps of heat 13, and with Skornicki holding off Smolinski it resulted in the sides being level once more at 39-39.
Barker and Tully paired up for the Brummies second 5-1 of the night in heat 14 as both passed Ludvig Lindgren inside and outside to earn the maximum, though an awful looking crash in the final race put a dampener on the night as Chris Harris unintentionally ran into the side of Iversen on bend three.
Iversen was taken off the track with a suspected hip injury as Skornicki replaced the Dane.
Lindgren rounded Doyle in the re-run to leave Brummies with a two point lead to take into the second leg.
After the meeting, Brummies boss Phil Morris said: “It’s only half time as far as I’m concerned. It was a top performance tonight, take nothing away from that, but we now must knuckle down and look to next week with a fresh attitude.
“We lead by two points, that can be overturned in one heat so it’s all about remaining focused and getting the job which needs to be done, done.”
Wolves 44: Niels-Kristian Iversen 5+1; Ricky Wells 6; Fredrik Lindgren 13+1; Robert Miskowiak 1; Adam Skornicki 9; Ludvig Lindgren 4+2; Nicolai Klindt 6.
Brummies 46: Martin Smolinski 3+2; Jason Doyle 12; Daniel King 4; Ben Barker 9; Chris Harris 11; Nicolas Covatti 1; Andrew Tully 6+2.
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