Victory over Swindon, defeat by Eastbourne
Swindon 43, Bees 47
It was a patched-up Bees side that took the track at Blunsden on Thursday. Three guests made up the six, Chris Harris, Jordan Frampton and Ritchie Hawkins although in actual fact Harris and Frampton are both Bees assets.
Bees made the start to heat one and although Scott Nicholls found his way past Ryan Fisher, Kenni Larsen held out to give Bees a good start to a night that could well have turned into a disaster.
Nick Morris proved how much he has improved by easily winning heat two. Unfortunately his partner Ritchie Hawkins fell entering the first turn for the third time.
Bees again gated in heat three but Jordan Frampton was out of contention after being taken wide on the second turn. Fisher kept his nose in front to sustain Bees slender lead.
Nicolai Klindt won a shared heat four before the home pair of Jesper B. Monberg and Simon Stead easily outpaced Larsen to put the home side ahead.
The lead did not last as Harris and Hawkins rather fortuitously took maximum points in heat six after race leader Nicholls pulled up on the third lap.
Klindt won his second ride of the night in heat seven after a tough battle with Fisher. Frampton rode a good third to keep Bees narrowly ahead.
Heat eight always looked good for Bees and Larsen and Morris obliged with a comfortable maximum to put the score at 27-21 to Bees at the halfway stage.
Harris fought off an early Swindon challenge to comfortably win heat nine before the home side came back into contention in heat ten. Nicholls was always going to be hard to beat but the surprise came from Grzegorz Zengota, whose first two outings could at the best be described as erratic as the Polish rider had difficulty in even staying on his bike. This time however he looked a different rider and followed his partner home for an unexpected maximum heat win.
Heat eleven saw probably the ride of the night. At the first attempt to run Harris was leading when Sergey Darkin fell on the third turn. In the rerun Harris and Larsen led and looked good for maximum points. Klindt was having none of this and on the last lap managed to get past both Bees for a win that earned the applause of both sets of supporters.
Bees were constantly making the starts and again led in heat twelve. Although Monberg went by Morris he could not catch Fisher and the resulting 4-2 kept Bees ahead. Heat thirteen could have been Bees undoing. Having been given a chance after Klint had comprehensively gone through the tapes and forced to go off 15 metres, Bees looked to settle for three points behind Nicholls before Harris suffered machine problems at the end of the third lap.
This put the home side just two behind and in heat fourteen looked to go ahead but Morris went by Darkin on the third lap to leave the teams level going into the final race.
The home pair of Nicholls and Klindt made the start and it looked all over for Bees. However some good work saw Harris and Fisher come out of a tight first turn ahead. They held out for four laps to give Bees a much-needed win and keep their play-off chances alive.
The Bees three regulars plus Harris were the main scorers although the other guests put in plenty of effort and scored vital points when needed.
Bees scorer’s; Fisher 12(10, Harris 11(2), Larsen 11, Morris 9, Hawkins 3, Frampton 1(1).
Bees 51, Eastbourne 42
Scott Nicholls took over the number one spot with Alun Rossiter deciding that rider replacement was a better option at number two.
As it was it was visiting number one Bjarne Pedersen who won the opening race from Larsen and Nicholls.
Cameron Woodward, who was going to be a thorn in Bees side over the next two nights, looked set to win heat two but Morris cashed in a mistake on the back straight of the final lap. Todd Kurtz, filling Bees other reserve spot took a good third place from Timo Lahti to give Bees the lead.
Bees took a maximum in the next thanks to some good work on the first turn by Fisher.
A repeat looked in the offing for heat four but Morris was unable to hold ex-Bee Joonas Kylmakorpi and lost second on the last lap.
Eastbourne hit back in the next. Larsen went round the outside of turn two to take the lead. Unfortunately he overcooked it next time around, letting Woodward through. Fisher tried hard to catch Pedersen but his efforts came to nothing.
Kylmakorpi won heat six but Morris suffered machine problems and retired before the end of the race.
Harris won heat seven before coming out in the next and splitting the visiting pair coming out of turn two to record his third win of the night. With Morris taking third Bees looked a little more comfortable, leading 27-21 at the halfway stage.
Bees had to be content of a share of the heat nine points after Woodward had been taken wide on the first turn.
Nicholls and Fisher took a comfortable maximum in heat ten to open up a ten-point lead.
This inevitably led to Pedersen being given a tactical ride in heat eleven. He had little problem in collecting the six points and for a while Woodward looked like following him home. Fortunately for Bees Harris found a gap between Woodward and the fence to squeeze by on the second lap.
Eastbourne were now threatening and when Simon Gustafsson and Woodward took an untroubled 5-1 in heat twelve, there was some unease in the Bees camp.
Fortunately the old combination of Nicholls and Harris came to the rescue in heat thirteen. Using turn two to good advantage they burst through the opposition to take a much-needed 5-1.
Larsen and Morris held their nerve after a tight first turn to record another maximum in the penultimate heat to ensure at least two match points for Bees.
Two points were needed to take all three match points and despite Kylmakorpi taking the chequered flag there was quite a scrap going on behind. Pedersen held the vital second place. Harris soon got by and then Nicholls took third on the line to give Bees a 51-42 victory.
Bee’s scorers; Harris 15(1), Larsen 12, Nicholls 10(2), Morris 7(1), Fisher 6(3), Kurtz 1
Eastbourne 53, Bees 40.
After Eastbourne had trounced Wolverhampton in the first match of this double header, Bees had no doubts about the task ahead of them. And the home side carried on where they left off with maximum points over Larsen and Bees guest for the night, Troy Batchelor.
Morris rode a good race to challenge Woodward in heat two but had to be content with second place.
Bees showed that they were going to be tougher opposition than that of the previous match when Larsen and Fisher took maximum points from heat three.
Morris made the start in heat four but Kylmakorpi went by on turn two. Harris followed Morris home for a share of the spoils.
Bees made the start to heat five and Batchelor and Morris looked set for five points. Unfortunately Morris took a nasty fall coming out of turn two for the third time. The race was awarded and the points shared.
Eastbourne took successive 4-2’s to open up a six-point lead and further increased it in heat eight when Harris was left trailing the home pair.
Harris was out again in the next and was given a tactical ride. He made no mistake this time leading all the way. Unfortunately Bees other guest, reserve Dakota North could make no impression so Bees could only take a 6-3 heat advantage.
Fisher fell on a tight first turn to heat ten. Woodward led and Larsen’s efforts to pass found him being forced perilously close to the Arlington fence. He managed second ahead of Pedersen but Bees now trailed by nine.
Kylmakorpi passed both Bees coming out of turn two to win heat eleven with Bees holding the minor places.
There was controversy in heat twelve. Morris held out from Gustafsson to record a good win. Fisher was chasing Woodward and the home reserve made a rare mistake on the final turn and clipped the fence. Fisher went by and clipped Woodward’s wheel bringing him down. Fisher was excluded much to the disgust of the Bees camp, but in fairness to referee Bates it looked as if he was spot on with his verdict.
Pedersen won a shared heat thirteen before heat fourteen was also split after Woodward had been penalised 15 metres for exceeding the two minute time allowance.
Bees now needed maximum points from heat fifteen to take a vital match point but it was the home side who came home ahead, leaving Bees on the wrong end of a 53-40 scoreline and a mountain to climb if they are to reach the play-offs.
Bees scorer’s; Harris 12, Morris 8(1), Larsen 8, Batchelor 7(1), Fisher 5(2), North 0.