Late run for a play-off place
Coventry Buildbase Bees have once again started a late run to reach the Elite League play-offs. Despite being without Emil Sayfutdinov, who was required for a domestic Russian meeting, they managed a win at home against Birmingham on Friday and slightly upset the odds with a fighting performance which gave them a draw at Belle Vue on Monday. It is now understood that apart from GP’s there are no more clashes of dates for the Russian so he should be available for the matches in the next two weeks which will have a big bearing on how the rest of the season pans out for Bees.
Bees 48, Birmingham 45
Once again Bees team was weakened due to GP calls and injuries. Sayfutdinov was taking part in the following day’s Italian GP and Przemyslaw Pawlicki was absent due to an injury picked up in Sweden the previous Tuesday. Nicolai Klindt guested at number one and rider replacement was used for Pawlicki. Bees also had to call up former Coventry contracted rider Filip Sitera to fill the second reserve spot. The visitors were without Ben Barker, who was required by his priority team Plymouth and his doubling-up partner Joe Screen was also unavailable so they also utilised rider-replacement.
Riders from last year’s Elite League winning side have a habit of coming back to Brandon and putting in some excellent performances. This time it was Krzysztof Kasprzak who looked in good form after winning heat one from Nicolai Klindt with Kenni Larsen unable to make any impression after hitting problems on turn one.
The visiting reserve pair looked particularly strong and it was Ulrich Ostergaard who won heat two. Josh Auty came second and Flip Sitera got a good third after some inter passing with Claus Vissing. Bees would have settled for a share of the points before the start of the race so this was a good result.
Larsen atoned for his earlier lapse with a good heat three win and with Ryan Fisher taking third, the teams were level.
Bees led into the turn to heat four but Daniel King soon got into second place. Unfortunately he fell on the Coventry turn leaving Bees to take a 5-1 and go into the lead.
Kasprzak won his second ride in heat five. Fisher worked his way into second but could not make up ground on the Brummies number one.
Klindt and Larsen took a 5-1 in heat six before Kennett won heat seven. The race points were shared as Auty fell on the second lap when challenging for third.
Larsen won heat eight with Sitera taking a good third after duping Vissing at the start of the third lap. At this stage Bees looked comfortable with an eight point lead.
The visitors were sharper away in heat nine. Kennett was soon into second and was challenging King. A distance behind Fisher was having a good battle with Ostergaard. King held out for a good win but Fisher took third on the last lap for a share of the heat points.
Larsen was taken wide on the first turn of heat ten. The visitors looked set for a 5-1 but a machine failure for Ales Dryml on the second lap gave a Bees a reprieve.
Kasprzak was again a winner in heat eleven but despite being baulked on the first lap both Bees had passed Vissing by the end of the second lap.
Fisher used the faster outside line to win heat twelve and with Sitera taking a good, third Bees were ten up.
Unfortunately, as with the Poole match, this proved their undoing and probably cost them the extra match point. Birmingham was now able to use a tactical ride and it fell just right with Kasprzak in heat thirteen. Once again he made the start and was followed by Kennett. Both riders went wide on the first turn and King used the inside line to good effect and moved into second place. Kennett then tried everything to pass but could not prevent Kasprzak from taking his fourth win. The 8-1 heat result brought the visitors to within three points of their hosts and still in the match.
As now appears the norm, Bees needed a result from the penultimate race. Fisher, again using the outside line, was an easy winner but Auty found himself behind the close riding combination of Dryml and Vissing. Despite making every effort he just could not find a way by so Bees had to settle for just three points.
Heat fifteen could have had three outcomes. A Birmingham 5-1 would have given them a win. A home maximum would have given Bees all three match points with any other result giving Bees just two points and Birmingham one.
As it was Kasprzak completed an immaculate five-ride maximum with Bees taking the minor places for a 48-45 win.
This was not a bad performance and with a weakened team Bees would probably been happy with the outcome. The tactical ride has certainly proved its value at Brandon with unfortunately Bees losing out on a match point both times.
The Bees regulars all scored well with Sitera showing an improvement from his Brandon days with a well-earned paid seven score.
Bee’s scorer’s; Kennett 13, Larsen 12(1), Fisher 10(1), Klindt, Sitera 5(2), Auty 3(1).
Belle Vue 45, Bees 45,
With a very limited choice of guests available for Sayfutdinov, Bees opted to use rider replacement in the number one position. Heavy rain in the afternoon had made the track difficult and in the long run probably affected the home side more.
Belle Vue made the better start with Chris Harris and Craig Cook leading into the first turn. Pawlicki managed second place after a mistake by Cook on turn two of the third lap. Larsen pulled out on lap three.
The Bees reserves brought the teams level in heat two. Nick Morris made the start, lost the lead on turn two, regained it on turn three and went on to win by a distance. McGowan passed Lukasz Jankowski to take third on lap three.
Larsen recovered from his early setback to be a convincing winner of heat three. Unfortunately the heat points were only shared as Fisher fell on turn three.
There were problems for the home side in heat three. Ricky Kling fell on the first turn, bringing down McGowan. Kling was disqualified but even worse received a nasty hand injury that was to bring his night’s racing to an early conclusion. In the rerun Rory Schlein was a comfortable winner.
Charlie Gjedde won a shared heat five before Bees went ahead in heat six. A tapes malfunction left Harris standing and a rerun was ordered. In the restart Kennett led Harris and a good race was developing before Harris fell on lap two. Morris took the third place point to put Bees two ahead.
The Aces immediately hit back in an exciting heat seven. Bees made the start. Schlein was soon in to second. Fisher was not having a good night and was soon at the back. Larsen looked to be the winner but Schlein timed his run off the final turn to perfection and snatched the verdict on the line.
Belle Vue were on a 5-1 in heat eight before Pawlicki fell on the third turn of lap two. The race was rerun but it made no difference to the result despite McGowan holding second for the first part of the race.
Bees hit back in heat nine through Kennett and Morris riding a good race to hold out Gjedde.
Harris was not having the best of nights and it was his partner Cook who led heat ten from the start. Harris managed to get by Larsen after a couple of laps to regain the slim home advantage.
Pawlicki had been having problems at the starts but in heat eleven he got his gating shoes on and raced to his first win of the night. Schlein was second with Kennett holding out Jankowski for third.
At this stage the teams were level on thirty three points each but heat twelve loomed and looked heavily in favour of the home side and true to form they rode home for a convincing maximum and put them back in the lead by four points.
Kennett beat his old oppo Schlein in heat thirteen but Pawlicki fell when challenging Harris on the last lap.
Once again heat fourteen proved vital. Morris came in for McGowan and he combined with Larsen for a comfortable 5-1 and put Bees right back in the match.
It now all depended on heat fifteen. Bees initially made the start but Schlein had forced his way into the lead by the end of the first lap and then Bees concentrated in keeping out Harris to draw the match.
Two points from the match was a bonus for Bees as, without Sayfutdinov, most fans expected the worse.
Bee’s hero was Morris, whose paid eleven score was the main reason for getting a result. The only rider to disappoint was Fisher, who should have revelled in the small track but just could not get going.
Bee’s scorers; Kennett 14, Morris 10(1), Larsen 8(2) Padlock 7, Fisher, McGowan 3(1).
Bees face three vital away matches in the next week. On Saturday they visit Lakeside who at present hold the vital fourth League place. Bees are four points behind Lakeside with five matches in hand but a win here would help their cause greatly. Bees should be at full strength but the home side will be missing former Bees stalwart Stuart Robson who is on the injury list after a crash at Newcastle on Sunday. On Wednesday they go to King’s Lynn for another League match. Sandwiched between these is the second leg of the K.O.Cup match at Peterborough on Monday. Bees already trail by eight so a superhuman effort is needed if they are to progress in this particular competition.
As the topsy turvy fixture list pans out Bees do not now have another home match for another two weeks.