It was perhaps not the debut the new look Birmingham team was looking for and also in new surroundings but the side will take alot of positives from this meeting as they head to Poole in a fortnights time.
Birmingham looked alot different to the team that finished last season at home to Ipswich as only Timms, Winwood and Groves were in that same side. The Monarchs drafted in Nicky Evans and Kieron Jones from Newport, Parish from Bury, Harper from Swindon and Ollie Riley.
Sheffield took an early advantage as Ryan Hoyland won heat 1 as Groves was exxcluded for moving at the tapes. Jones and Parish put in a good team performance to keep the scores level in heat 2 but then the first 7-3 of the afternoon came in favour of the Yorkshire outfit as Stephenson kept guard for Pawel Idziorek.
Heat 4 took a third try from the gates as twice Nathan Groves was clamped at the first corner and in heat 5 Evans was excluded for a startline infringement. By then the visitors had a ten point lead but Chris Timms claimed a heat win, the first for a Monarch, to get a 5-5 share. Heat 7 then saw yet another tape infringement this time for David Ball and the Stephenson/Idziorek pair capitalised with a 7-2 to make it 41-26.
Heat 9 saw Winwood get excluded for a questionable decision as he defended position from Jake Reed. By the interval it was 52-34 to the Stars. Heat 13 after the break brought the meeting back to life as Andy Angell got excluded as he put his foot up and clipped Timms. From the restart Harper and Timms claimed a 7-3. Birmingham looked the stronger of the sides in the second half but the damage was done in the first 9 heats and Sheffield came out winners.
Manager Mark Winwood and Captain Chris Timms were both very pleased with the teams performance as the side all dug in and did well on a very wet track and a track which even some of the home riders have not ridden much in anger.
Birmingham Monarchs 77 D.Ball 6+2, Evans 9, Jones 7+1, Parish 13, Harper 7+1, C.Timms 15+1, Groves 10+1, Winwood 7
Sheffield Stars 97 Hoyland 14, Angell 14, Smith 13, J.Ball 14+3, Stephenson 12+3, Idziorek 17, Reed 7, Chambers 6+1
In the Combination meeting Sheffield came out 73-57 winners though their was good racing in tricky conditions. Wins for Paul Timms, Joe Kemp and Ollie Riley. Jake Reed was strong for Sheffield as was Vicky Brown and Zach Smurthwaite.
Birmingham 57 P.Timms 9, J. Kemp 11+2, Hancox 9+1, Widdas 3+2, Riley 14+1, Stevenson 7+1, Hexley 4+2
Sheffield 73 Reed 18+1, V.Brown 10+1, Hudson 11, Watson 9+2, Parrott 12, Smurthwaite 12+3