Elite League: Birmingham Brummies 47, King’s Lynn Stars 43
Lynn's Mission: Impossible fell at the first hurdle as their faint Elite League play-off dreams finally died.
The Stars knew they needed a minor miracle to finish in the top four ahead of their trip to Birmingham Brummies tonight and the league leaders' visit to the Norfolk Arena on Wednesday.
Picking up a maximum of seven points on offer across both meetings wasn't even going to be enough because they also had to win both matches by a combined total of 70 to leapfrog Poole Pirates and finish fourth. And a victory by a margin of about 35 never looked like happening in the Stars' first of their final two fixtures despite a brave effort at Perry Barr.
Six-man Lynn, missing Richie Worrall who was on Premier League duty for Newcastle, showed plenty of pride and even roared into a six-point lead early on at a greasy and uneven Midlands track. But they never stood a chance when captain Mads Korneliussen hit a rut in heat eight and lost control before ploughing into the air fence and retiring from the clash with what looked like a shoulder injury.
That said, even with just five riders, Rob Lyon's troops – who have suffered a torrid run of fitness issues all year – kept scrapping away. Nicklas Porsing showed another glimpse of his undoubted potential in the 12th heat to hold off Danny King for almost four laps before he was finally overtaken.
The lead between the two sides chopped and changed all night thanks to a host of maximum 5-1 race wins, with Lynn's fourth coming in the 13th, which left it 39 apiece. But Lasse Bjerre came off in the penultimate heat, when third, with just two turns left to allow Josh Auty to walk his packed-up machinery home to seal a 4-2 rather than a shared 3-3.
The Brummies took a two-point lead into the nominated race needing to avoid a 5-1 reverse to finish top of the table above champions Swindon Robins going into the end-of-season shootout for the title. And they triumphed in the last-heat decider, thanks to the excellent Jason Doyle's win, to seal top spot for the first in the club's history and have the choice of their semi-final opponents – which saw them select fierce rivals Wolverhampton Wolves.
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Birmingham (number of rides): M Smolinski 7+1 (4), B Barker 12+1 (5), D King 6 (4), J Doyle 13+1 (5), C Harris 1 (3), N Covatti 3 (4), J Auty 5+1 (5)
Lynn: N-K Iversen 12 (5), M Korneliussen 5 (3), L Bjerre 1 (4), R Schlein 9+1 (5), N Porsing 10+1 (7), D Bellego 6+2 (6)