Stars book play-off spot
King's Lynn Stars 50, Birmingham Brummies 43: The Stars' joy at reaching the end-of-season play-offs was tempered by reserve rider Kozza Smith picking up an injury in King's Lynn's biggest Elite League meeting of the season last night.
Lynn required just a shared 3-3 result from the final heat of their regular home season to take three league points and qualify for that crucial top four spot – and number one rider Kenneth Bjerre delivered with a stunning race win to cap his paid maximum points haul.
The play-off semi-final first leg will be on Monday, September 19 with the return leg seven days later. Leaders Poole have yet to pick their opponents or whether they want the opening leg at home.
As a result of the big climax to the Stars' 2011 campaign, next week's Pride Of The East has been postponed to Saturday, October 15.
Although they were behind for four races the match turned for King's Lynn with three successive 5-1 maximum heat wins during the middle period.
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Popular Aussie Smith sustained a blow to the head when he slid off in front of and crashed into teammate Filip Sitera in just the second heat of the evening.
The stricken Smith was treated by paramedics and went to hospital via ambulance as the meeting was delayed by 25 minutes. The seriousness of the crash was hinted at when the attendant Sky TV cameras were not showing replays immediately afterwards.
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His injury was later revealed to be not as serious as once thought, with just some damage to the upper arm.
Sitera was the hero as, despite suffering many bruises and a swollen hand, he took seven rides for a paid seven points.
Kenneth Bjerre won the first race in a Stars' 4-2, but the Brummies responded with a 5-1 following Smith's crash.
In a twice re-run Heat 3 home skipper Olly Allen fell and was excluded. Good team riding by Brummies' captain Danny King and Ben Barker shut out Mads Korneliussen for the second Birmingham 5-1 in a row.
In Heat 4 Sitera pulled off a spectacular ride by going from fourth to second on the final lap and somehow squeezed between Claus Vissing and Daniel Nermark to back up winner Niels-Kristian Iversen in Lynn's first 5-1.
The Stars drew level with a 4-2 in Heat 5 in another hotly contested race won by Kenneth Bjerre. Lasse Bjerre and Sitera's 5-1 ensured Lynn led at the midway point for the first time since the opening outing.
Guest Scott Nicholls won a double point tactical ride in Heat 11 to halve the gap in a 7-2 Brummies' victory. Birmingham immediately reduced the deficit to three with three races remaining.
Iversen and Kenneth Bjerre gave Lynn the seven-point cushion they needed with a 5-1 with two races remaining, and it went down to a Heat 15 decider.
• King's Lynn: Kenneth Bjerre 14+1, Lasse Bjerre 7+1, Olly Allen 6+1, Mads Korneliussen 8+1, Niels-Kristian Iversen 10, Filip Sitera 5+2, Kozza Smith 0 (withdrawn).
• Birmingham: Scott Nicholls 12+1, Ales Dryml 1, Danny King 10, Ben Barker 7+1, Daniel Nermark 1, Ulrich Ostergaard 8+2, Claus Vissing 4.