SKY SPORTS' NIGEL PEARSON ON BIRMINGHAM BRUMMIES v SWINDON ROBINS
SWINDON Robins can’t afford to take anything for granted over two legs against a Birmingham side who will be like a wounded animal.
The fact that Rosco's boys have beaten the second city side four times this season surely points to only one outcome, but you can be sure Birmingham boss Phil Morris will have his side wound up for the first leg on home shale before heading back to Blunsdon on Thursday.
By the same token Rosco, who has exprerience of getting through to Grand Finals, will be warning his side against complacency.
Personally, I expect class to shine through. Swindon are the stronger team and I believe they will win by 20-points on aggregate - at least.
1 Danny King (c) 7.47
UP to No.1 for the first time after enjoying his best ever season.
A solid performer but not quite a genuine No.1 - could score double figures on home shale in the first leg, however.
2 Ben Barker 6.22
ALWAYS a lively performer, never knows when he's beaten.
A member of Coventry's 2010 title winning team, interesting move by the Brummies management to put him at No.2 to maintain a successful partnership with King.
3 Sebastian Ulamek 7.10
INCONSISTENT this season. I thought he'd manage an average of eight on his return to British Speedway, but he's been too hit and miss.
On his day, however, he remains a dangerous competitor and a class act.
4 Josh Auty 5.79
SCORED the bulk of his points at reserve this season. A great signing by the Perry Barr club in that position.
He's a slow starter and tries to compensate for this by jumping the start, but a talented young rider. Not sure how he'll perform in the middle order, however.
5 Bjarne Pedersen 7.35
UNDER the microscope at Birmingham after some indifferent displays. A shoulder injury was reported by co-promoter Graham Drury recently - and I know that was brought into question by Robins chiefs.
No longer the man for the big occasion in my view - still a capable performer but not in the No.1 slot these days .
6 Martin Smolinski (r) 5.05
HE'S disappointed to find himself at reserve. Smolinski is a better rider than that but, like Smolinski, his return to British Speedway hasn't been straight forward.
A strong reserve on his day - but up against Steady and Lampart he will have his work cut out in Heat 2.
7 Nicolas Covatti (r) 3.00*
THE single reason why Birmingham edged a top four spot in my view.
Covatti came in as a replacement for Tomasz Piszcz on a 3-point average and started scoring immediately. Great to watch, but should only be on a par with Lampart at best.
1 Hans Andersen (c) 8.18
GOOD signing for the Robins. Not a No.1 on a par with the dream duo at Poole (Holder and Ward) but still solid in this modern day league.
Should feel confident of winning Heat 1 against the Brummies pair of King and Barker.
2 Nick Morris 5.78
WHILST Swindon have Stead at reserve, not sure about Morris in the tricky No.2 slot.
He's a terrific talent, one for the future, and he needed to double-up when he did. I expect him to get 4/5 points.
3 Peter Kildemand 6.98 ON his day a terrific performer - and to think he started the season at reserve!
He's got a great style, always good to watch and I can see him playing a vital role in the play-offs. Only reservation is he is still suspect at times and can throw in an unexpected zero.
4 Jason Doyle 6.50
ONE of the signings of the season for the Robins. Has the experience of play-offs and winning the title with Poole and he's done a fine job for the side.
In the middle order the bonus is he can still bag 7/8 points on a good night.
5 Troy Batchelor 7.94
WHEN I heard Robins has brought 'Batch' back to Blunsdon I thought it was one of the key signings.
And, whilst he hasn't let anyone down, I still believe he is a better rider than Swindon fans have seen for the majority of the season. There's a Grand Prix rider in there somewhere.
6 Simon Stead (r) 5.75
HAS the ability to hit the big scores. Only reservation is how he feels about the sport these days and how much passion and ambition there is with the guy.
I'd be amazed if Simon didn't appear in the Premier League next year - but at reserve, particularly around the Abbey, I expect his confidence to rocket.
7 Dawid Lampart (r) 4.58
ANOTHER astute signing for the club. I was very impressed when he first rode for them after an ill-fated time with Eastbourne when he struggled badly.
A solid rider who only needs to chip in with 3/4 points to do his job for the team. I expect him to do that, particularly in the second leg at home.
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