It was top versus bottom at Hi-Edge Raceway last weekend, and there were no surprises as Birmingham Brummies coasted to a 61-29 victory over Buxton Hitmen.
Birmingham came into town as red hot favourites to win the National League and did nothing during a 15-heat masterclass to prove that wrong, despite losing two of their original team prior to the match.
The meeting was not without its controversy and more for Buxton manager Jason Pipe to lose sleep over.
“I never expected that scoreline today,” he said. “When I arrived at the track and found out that Ritchings and Smith were missing (from the Birmingham side), I really did think we were in with a chance of running them very close and maybe even nicking that win. But it just wasn’t to be our day.
“Bad luck struck again. We lost our captain Ryan Blacklock after one ride, with a hand injury, when he came off and slid in to the fence after struggling to hold on to the bike.
“Raj had lost quite a bit of energy over the weekend having being laid up with flu. I did offer him the chance of pulling out and bringing in a guest, but he said he would be okay to give it a go. But it just didn’t work out for him.
“David Wallinger was also racing when he shouldn’t have been. Davey was ill for most of Saturday and did actually pull out of the meeting, when he contacted me on Saturday lunchtime.
“But when I then received a phone call from Ryan Burton to say he’d had an accident at work and it was confirmed on a trip to hospital that he suffered a broken big right toe and couldn’t walk, that Davey then got back to me and said he’d give it a go.
“Fair play to Davey for trying and the same with Raj. We also had Lee Dicken tweak something in his back in his first ride today and he struggled on for two more rides after that, then after coming off in his third ride when the track caught him out and damaged his knee, he then had to say enough was enough.
“On a more positive note it was great again to see Shelby Rutherford and Lee Geary amongst the points again. If Shelby had been riding all season, like he did in heats 15 this week and last week, he’d had certainly had a much higher average.
“Both Shelby and Lee (Geary) are really enjoying their racing right now and they are more relaxed and it’s showing by the points they are getting on the board.
“Tom Woolley came in as our guest today and started off with five from this first two rides, then he had an unfortunate last in his third and had engine problems in his last two races.”
Focusing on the last few matches of the season Pipe was in an upbeat mood, saying: “All we can do is put this result behind us now and start focusing on our two meetings at home next week in our double header.
“I also must apologise to our loyal fans for that poor team performance today.
“A defeat like that hurts very much and I would not normally tolerate such a heavy defeat, but with another injury and sickness and flu bugs going around, you can understand why today happened.
“I’m just pleased Birmingham didn’t put their full team out today as that scoreline could have been even more embarrassing.We need to regroup and focus on next Sunday’s double header at Buxton.”
Once more the Hitmen have been hit with another rider retirement in a season that hasn’t been kind in that respect
“After the meeting we were rocked by the news from David Wallinger that he’s no longer going to ride this season,” said Pipe.
“It doesn’t rain for us this season, it just constantly pours!
“Davey has had to stop riding at the moment because of his personal circumstances outside of speedway that have just recently changed.
“I’d like to wish Davey all the best and thank him for coming in to the side when he did and helped us out.
“I’m sure this isn’t the last we have seen of Davey on a speedway bike and hopefully sometime in the future we’ll see him back on a bike again.
“Joe Lawlor has agreed to come in at reserve and cover for Davey in our last four meetings this season.”
This Sunday sees a 30-heat double header against the Isle of Wight and King’s Lynn – 3pm start.
BUXTON 29: Shelby Rutherford 8+1, Lee Geary 8+1, Tom Woolley 6, David Wallinger 3+2, Lee Dicken 3, Sam Woolley (no.8) 1, Ryan Blacklock 0, Ryan Burton r/r. BIRMINGHAM 61: Jack Parkinson-Blackburn 18+3, Tom Perry 14+1, Tom Bacon 11+1, Luke Priest 11+1, Joe Lawlor 7+1, Stephen Whitehouse 0, Danyon Hume r/r.