Coventry came out 90-89 winners at Hearsall Common in what was a fantastic tussle between the two midland sides played out good spirits.
Birmingham drafted in Lee and Joe Kemp from East Park as the evergreen Bob Prince also rolled back the years to don the red and white shirt. Coventry looked strong throughout with Konrad Pietak in at number one also experienced riders in Norman Venson and Dave Frith as well as young chargers James Kirrane and Mike Grimes.
The first couple of heats were shared with wins for Pietak and Grimes as Monarchs filled in the second and third places. Heat 3 saw the first piece of action as beginning the second lap Mark Winwood slipped and crashed with Venson. Luckily both riders were able to get up though Winwood seemed to damage his hand. Frantic pit work from Paul Timms helped Winwood, who rides for Coventry, to come out in the re-run as he damaged his front wheel.
Coventry edged a 6-4 in the restarted heat as then Konrad won the next as Lee Kemp and Widdas made it a 5-5 to keep things close. Heat 5 saw some great team riding from Joe Kemp and Nathan Groves as they kept Joe McLaughlin and James Kirrane at bay to get the first 7-3 of the afternoon and to take the lead. Heats 6-8 saw again shared heats which showed how evenly matched the two teams were and what a great spectical the meeting was. Heat 9 before the interval saw Reynolds get excluded for moving at the tapes and Birmingham picked up a 5-4 as Frith limited the damage winning ahead of Paul Timms and Lee Kemp to make it 43-46 to Birmingham.
Heat 10 after the interval saw Coventry come back with a 6-4 as Venson beat Timms to the line with McLaughlin claiming third ahead of Joe Kemp. Heat 12 Coventry got their first 7-3 of the afternoon as Pietak did some great team riding to help Kirrane win the heat as the Birmingham duo tried to round the Polish rider to make it 61-58. Coventry held the lead till heat 14 as once more it swung to the Perry Park outfit as a fine 7-3 from Joe Kemp and rider/manager Winwood against the Coventry young chargers Phillips and Reynolds.
But the lead then once more changed hands as in heat 15 Grimes got the better of Lee Kemp for a 6-4 to lead by one point. Heat 16 then saw Birmingham return the favour as super guest Joe Kemp made it a hat-trick of wins, this time ahead of Dave Frith, with Steve Hodgkinson getting a important third place to put the Monarchs one point ahead with two heats to go! Heat 17 Pietak once more showed his skill as well as tactical mind as he brought home a 7-3 as once more he defended as Mason Phillips took the flag to give them a 86-83 lead into the final heat. Winwood and captain Groves knew what they needed in the last race but Birmingham could only muster a 6-4 to lose the meeting 90-89.
Coventry 90: Pietak 18+2, Kirrane 9. Grimes 18, Phillips 9+2, Frith 17, Venson 11+2, Reynolds 3, McLaughlin 5
Birmingham 89: Widdas 4+1, Groves 16+1, Timms 14, Hodgkinson 8+1, Winwood 15+2, Prince 8+2, L. Kemp 9+2, J. Kemp 15+1
In the Combination fixture Birmingham gave a debut to their new recruit Emily Pitt. Emily did very well in her first competitive fixture and also away as she has only been getting her teeth into the Perry Park track and will sure be a rider who will improve and impress during the year.
Like the first team this meeting was close all the way though Coventry had the lead from heat 1 with Josh Marsh going through the card for the home side with Jake Slatter giving good support. Birmingham had Dylan Hexley and Ewan Hancox as their top scorers, the duo looking to have a strong season once again.
Richard Stevenson also got into double figures having a solid meeting and like the rest of the second team is improving. Also Jake Ryan should be mentioned for his great tactical team riding teaming up with Hancox and Pitt stop Coventry extending their lead.
Coventry 66: McCaroll 9, Dickinson 6+1, J.Marsh 16, S.Marsh 5, J.Slatter 15, Morris 6, S.Slatter 5
Birmingham 64: Stevenson 12, Pitt 5, Hexley 14, Re.Winwood 8+2, Hancox 14, Ryan 7+2, Ry. Winwood 4