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- RESULT: Birmingham Brummies 35-55 Swindon Robins
- Birmingham Brummies: Danny King (FX-2^-R-1)3, Ben Barker (2-3-3-1-2), Seb Ulamek (R-2-2-2), Josh Auty (1-1*-F)2+1, Bjarne Pedersen (1-2-2-X)5, Martin Smolinski (3-X-2*-1"-1*-2)9+3, Nicolas Covatti (0-0-FX)0
- Swindon Robins: Hans Andersen (3-3-0-2*)8+1, Nick Morris (1-0-1-3)5, Peter Kildemand (2*-3-3-3-3)14+1 PAID MAXIMUM, Jason Doyle (3-1-2*-3)9+1, Troy Batchelor (3-2-3-3-2*)13+1, Simon Stead (1*-0-FX-0)1+1, Dakota North, guest (2-2*-0-1)5+1
- Reporting by ANDY WARREN AND NED PAYNE
Despite the manner of this evening's 20-point victory over the Brummies, Robins boss Alun Rossiter is determined to keep his feet on the ground.
“We go into the second leg feeling confident of course, but not over-confident because that is when it comes back to bite you.
“But we were very comfortable and the 20 points says it all.
“Peter was incredible for us, but we did well right the way through the team although Simon didn’t have the best of nights. For him it is a lack of meetings, but he will be alright and he will score the points at home I’m sure.”
“We have got one foot in the final, but it is only one foot, and we can’t switch off."
Heat 15: Kildemand, Batchelor, Ulamek, Barker, 59.1
Kildemand completes a brilliant paid maximum by again using the outside line, which Birmingham's riders have left clear tonight. Batch comes in second to end on paid 14. Cracking meeting for him.
Heat 14: Doyle, Smolinski, North, Covatti, 61.0
Heavy crash for Covatti on the back straight but he does well to clear the track. Doyle having a super night.
Heat 13: Batchelor, Andersen, King, Pedersen (X) 59.5
King collects Pedersen on bend one but it's the latter that's excluded. King gets nowhere near it on the re-run.
Heat 12: Kildemand, Ulamek, Smolinski, Stead, 60.1
Kildemand round the outside of home duo on bend two with ease. He loves that line and it works a treat at Perry Barr.
Heat 11 (re-run x2): Morris, Pedersen, Smolinski, Andersen, 60.4
First attempt was stopped due to rolling. Then Hans is penalised and goes off 15 metres. Morris stormed round Brummies pair on bend two but Hans could not quite catch Smolinski.
RT @Steffi_Davies: RT @Steffi_Davies: Gotta love PK!! #speedway #playoffs #swindonrobins— @scottdb7 01 October 2012
Heat 10: Kildemand, Doyle, Barker, King, 59.7
Robins stamp out the hosts' mini-revival with a thumping 5-1. Kildemand stormed away and zdoyle did the defensive job to a T.
Heat nine (re-run, awarded): Batchelor, Ulamek, Auty (F), Stead (FX)
Stead takes out Batch at the first attempt and that could be the Yorkshireman's night over. On the re-run Batch goes from third to first round the outside. Auty loses it wide out a lap later and the heat is awarded.
Apologies for the lack of updates. Unfortunately technical problems have been causing issues in the last 45 minutes.
Heat five: Andersen, Ulamek, Auty, Morris, 59.0
Andersen looks very good so far tonight, being untroubled in his two opening wins. Morris struggled a bit at the back.
Heat six: Barker, Batchelor, King (tac), Stead, 58.5
Early tactical for the hosts but a 5-2 is all they muster. The gap now seven points.
Heat seven (re-run x2): Kildemand, Pedersen, Doyle, Smolinski, 59.2
After a couple of false starts, Smolinski clips Doyle with his back wheel on bend one lap two and is rightly excluded. Kildemand eventually wins after beating Pedersen into turn one.
Heat eight: Barker, Smolinski, Morris, North, 60.3
Great blocking job by Barker and Smolinski to keep out Morris, who was certainly quick enough for second but couldn't find a way through.
Heat four: Batchelor, North, Pedersen, Covatti, 58.9
Time for an early tactical for the Brummies? North is proving an inspired guest so far with paid five from two rides. Batch cruising out front.
Wooo go #swindonrobins #speedway 5-1! Brummies left @ the start!! :)— @MissCandySarah 01 October 2012
Heat three: Doyle, Kildemand, Auty, Ulamek (R), 59.1
Easy peasy for Swindon, absolutely walked that.
Heat two: Smolinski, North, Stead, Covatti, 59.6
Stead looked quick but North was in his way for most of the race. Smolinski never troubled.
Heat one: Andersen, Barker, Morris, King (FX), 58.7
Hans gets past Barker early on and that was that.
Heat one (re-run x2):
Well that wasn't in the script. King falls initially after the red lights went on. We go again and King falls in exactly the same place at bend one. He's excluded.
The riders are finally out on the track for the start of heat one! Not long now!
Come on then Swindon #swindonrobins #speedwayplayoffs— @RobbForty 01 October 2012
Can the Robins put on a decent display infront of the Sky cameras ??#swindonrobins— @DannyKimber 01 October 2012
We've been treated to smorgasbord of music in the restaurant tonight. All areas have been represented, with varying degrees of success. All of it has been loud, though.
Come on then Swindon #swindonrobins #speedwayplayoffs— @RobbForty 01 October 2012
Elite league playoff time! #speedway #swindonrobins 🚲 💨— @Steffi_Davies 01 October 2012
Still waiting for heat one here, so here is some more build up.
Troy Batchelor is expecting the Robins to put their money where their mouth is when they begin their play-off campaign tonight.
READY: Troy Batchelor
“We have been looking forward to the play-offs all season, and it is now that time, but we have to step it up,” he said.
“The play-offs have been in the back of our heads for a while now, and they have been a long time coming so we need to make it count.
"So far we have been injury free so that is good, and the play-offs are here so we need to live-up to what we have been talking about all year.”
Fabulous.. A speedway track that sells Stella #swindonrobins— @clarescarth 01 October 2012
Come in boys, carry on the great season into tonight's playoffs. #speedway #swindonrobins— @archeroo 01 October 2012
Almost time for play-off semi final first leg! Come on Swindon! We can do this. #RobinsPride #RockinRobins #swindonrobins— @wozie_stevie 01 October 2012
Mass changes to the Brummies riding order has all-but made tonight's programme redundant.
Alun Rossiter has been easgerly waiting for the play-offs to begin for some time now, and wants his side to end a more than 50 year wait for national glory and earn themselves a place in the history books.
“It is very important for the club, but I think I have more belief in this team than I had in 2009, so it really could be massive,” he said.
“On our day if every rider stands up for themselves then I know we can win, and I keep reminding them that they will go down in history if we win it.
“We have riders from 1967 who won the league and are legends, and if we can do the same then we will go down in history, simple as that.
“In a few years time everyone will look back and wonder who the last team to win the league was, and it could be the likes of Troy Batchelor and Hans Andersen, so these guys could go down in history in Swindon.
"But to do that we have to first beat Birmingham which will be a very hard match at their place, and they ride at our track very well too.”
Minutes away from tapes-up. Birmingham's riding order in the programme is completely different to that put up on the club's website. Stadium announcer did not mention any changes to the programme on the Brummies side. Very strange.
Riders on parade here now, the wait for play-off speedway is nearly over.
Off to Birmingham! #swindonrobins— @JoDavies93 01 October 2012
Robins boss Alun Rossiter has backed Troy Batchelor to bounce back from his GP Challenge disappointment this evening, after the Aussie missed out on a GP place in a tense run-off in Gorican on Saturday night.
MISSED OUT: Troy Batchelor
“I know Troy will be upset by what happened because he got so close, and he only needed a second in his last ride and he would have been a Grand Prix rider,” he said.
“That is hard to take because for every rider the goal is to make it into the Grand Prix and knowing Batch as I do he will be cut up about it.
“He will get there though, because he is a strong character, a strong person and I am sure he has a future in the Grand Prix.
“He is a professional guy and he knows our meeting with Birmingham is his chance to finish the season off in style, and I am sure he will put in a great performance for us.”
Don't forget to get involved in tonight's meeting by using #swindonrobins on Twitter or leaving your comments below. The best comments will be reprinted, with mindless rants actively encouraged. Tap away, people.
Birmingham promoter Graham Drury believes all of the pressure is on the Robins this evening.
“They are desperate for success. All the pressure is on them. We are the underdogs and whatever happens we know we have achieved something special by getting in the play-offs in the second season of Elite League racing here at Birmingham.
“It’s Swindon who will be feeling the heat. Their management will be so nervous because they are so desperate for success, but we can just focus on getting our heads down and riding the best we can.”
Fancy a hot dog and a drink at Birmingham? That'll be £6.20 please. Let's hope the action tonight represents better value. I'm sure it will.
Tonight is another big night in the career of Simon Stead, and the Robins man is keen to put a difficult season behind him and use the play-offs as a new start.
TURNING A CORNER: Simon Stead
“It has been a tough year, but the play-offs are a different story,” he said.
“We start from scratch and it can be a bit of a new start, and we will go into the meetings looking to score plenty of points and finish the season on a high.
“I am feeling a lot better and I feel a lot more comfortable after making a lot of changes, and we used the last meeting at Birmingham as a bit of a practice session where we tried some different things and I felt that by my last ride we had made some good strides.
“I have only ridden at Birmingham twice before, so it was good to get some laps in before tonight.
“We have had some laps and some paid practice, so there will be no excuse when Monday comes around.”
The Robins are without reserve Dawid Lampart this evening after the Pole picked up an ankle injury practicing in his homeland, but Alun Rossiter is pleased to be able to call on Ipswich rider Dakota North to fill his spot at number seven.
MISSING: Dawid Lampart
“It is a shame to be without Dawid, but he injured his ankle while practicing and he is struggling a little bit,” he said.
“But we are pleased to bring someone like Dakota in because he is a rider I have admired for quite a long time, and I am sure he will do well tonight.
“It is a great chance for him to get a taste of the play-offs, and he can be a hero for us, and it is open for any of our riders to be heroes at this stage.”
Weather overhead is cracking but rain earlier today has left large areas of the track pretty moist. At the moment it looks a circuit for gaters.
A quick note if you missed it that Swindon reserve Dawid Lampart has been ruled out of tonight's meeting aft he picked up an injury in Poland on Sunday. Riding in his place is Ipswich youngster Dakota North. Great opportunity for the Aussie.
A note to supporters making the trip to Perry Barr, don't miss the car park otherwise you will spend 20 minutes getting back to it. Birmingham is a touch busier than Blunsdon.
Welcome to Perry Barr where Swindon are about to begin their play-off campaign against Birmingham. The semi-final first leg meeting is due to begin in a shade over an hour and you can follow all the action here.