Coventry Buildbase Bees were not exactly happy bunnies after their Easter holiday turned slightly sour on them.
Four convincing wins in their Midland League matches left fans and officials confident of some good results in their Good Friday matches against current Elite League champions Poole. As it was, despite leading in both matches, Bees faded in the latter stages and opened their league campaign without a solitary point to their name and work needed if they are to gain the expected play-off place.
Bees 44 Poole 49
This was probably the first Good Friday morning meeting held at Coventry and despite reservations about the time it a was a huge crowd that packed Brandon for the first league encounter of the season.
In the early stages everything went according to plan. Aaron Summers leapt from the start to become an easy winner of heat one from Sam Masters. Behind them the two GP stars Chris Harris and Chris Holder battled at the back for the solitary point with the Bees man getting the advantage at the start of the third lap.
Bees reserve pair of Henning Bager and Adam Roynon took a 4-2 in the second race before Poole pulled two back in heat three. It could have been worse but Edward Kennett managed to split the fast-gating pair of Darcy Ward and Dennis Andersson.
At this stage Bees were sluggish from the tapes and it was the visiting pair who again led from the tapes. Scott Nicholls took three laps to pass reserve Todd Kurtz before Henning Bager forced his way into third on the final lap.
Kennett won heat five but partner Larsen was last away. Larsen recovered to eventually take third place from the uncomfortable Holder.
Bees made a good start to heat six but Roynon went wide on the first turn and lost out to Adrian Miedzinski.
Nicholls averted a possible serious incident in heat seven after picking up unwanted grip coming out of turn two. He lifted almost vertically but managed to bring the machine back under control and avoid hitting the fence. Ward took the opportunity to take the lead with Bees content to hang on to the minor places.
Summers won heat eight with Bager overcoming a lap two mistake to catch Kurtz next time around. At this stage Bees looked reasonably comfortable with a 28-20 lead.
Bees took a 4-2 in a rerun heat nine to increase the lead to ten.
This allowed Poole to give Ward a tactical ride and in one of the best pieces of team riding seen for a long time he shepherded partner Andersson home in front of the desperately chasing Harris to take a maximum 8-1 heat win and reduce the lead to just three.
Interval watering took place and this appeared to upset Bees more than the visitors.
Nicholls and Roynon were outmanoeuvred on the first turn by Holder and Masters and for the first time this season Bees were behind in a match.
After a drawn heat twelve the visitors increased their lead in heat thirteen after Harris suffered machine problems at the start.
Kennett and Roynon pulled two back in heat fourteen but the visitors, having the choice of gate positions, outgated the Bees pair to take victory by 49 points to 44.
The Bee’s team were expected to rely on the top four and on this occasion they were not strong enough. Summers and the reserve pairing exceeded expectations, but just four race winners from the top end was not good enough and they had no answer to Ward who scored an eighteen point maximum.
Bees scorer’s; Kennett 9, Nicholls 8, Bager 7(2), Summers 7, Larsen 6, Harris 5, Roynon 2(1).
Poole 52, Bees 38.
Another bumper crowd gathered for the second meeting of these two teams. Bees were without Summers who was required by Redcar and utilised rider-replacement.
Bager took his place in heat one and followed Harris past Ricky Kling for a share of the points.
Out again in heat two he combined with Roynon to take maximum points in a time just 0.01 seconds slower than Holder in the opener.
Kennett and Larsen looked to take a share of the points in heat three before Larsen fell when unchallenged at the end of lap two.
Poole made the start to heat four and Nicholls took three laps to pass reserve Kurtz to keep the scores level.
Harris won a cut and thrust battle with Ward in heat five, a win that did not go down with the home rider too well and words were exchanged afterwards.
Poole were consistently leading into the first turn and both Nicholls and Roynon had to get by Kling in heat six to keep on level terms.
It looked good for Bees in heat seven with Kennett and Larsen on maximum points. Larsen was again in trouble when what appeared to be a dropped chain caused him to fall again when in a comfortable position.
Maybe unwisely, Larsen was sent out for a rider replacement in the next and to the dismay of Bees fans again failed to finish, his bike giving up the ghost when once again a 5-1 was a distinct possibility.
Despite all this Bees still remained level at the halfway stage.
Heat nine however was the beginning of the end when Poole took the lead after a hard first turn.
Holder soon passed Kennett in heat ten and with Larsen at the back the lead was increased to six.
Three shared heats followed before Ward once again showed his team riding skills in getting Kurtz home ahead of Kennett in the penultimate race.
Holder and Ward duly finished off proceedings with a maximum win in heat fifteen to give a slightly flattering 52-38 scoreline.
Unfortunately this was not Larsen’s night and had he completed his rides the score would have been a lot different. Indeed the home team knew they had been in a match and will have easier wins than this as the season progresses.
Once again Bees top end did not perform as expected. It came as a surprise to find that Nicholls failed to win a race all day. Once again the reserves kept Bees in the hunt with Roynon and Bager netting a paid seventeen between them.
Bees’ scorers: Harris 8(1), Kennett, Nicholls 8, Bager 7(3), Roynon 5(2), Larsen 2.
Bees now have to regroup and prepare for tomorrow’s visit of King’s Lynn. The Stars have not made the most impressive start to the season and Bees need points from this match if they are to be taken as serious contenders for the league. The visitors are led by the Danish duo of Niels Kristian Iversen and Mads Korneliussen. A third Dane in the side is the experienced Daniel Nermark. Their trump card is reserve David Howe, who is knocking up some big scores at the moment. He is joined in the reserve berth by ex-Bees Filip Sitera.
Bees need all the support they get at the moment as this match is vital to their season.
The meeting starts at the usual time of 8pm.
Bees have another difficult match on Monday when they visit Swindon in a televised match. The Robins are managed by Alun Rossiter, who left Brandon in the winter after guiding them to the 2010 Elite League Championship. The Swindon team has a familiar look about it with three of last year’s Bees team now at Blunsdon. Hans Andersen, Peter Kildemand and Nick Morris wore the black and gold last year. Add Troy Batchelor and Simon Stead to the mix and it easy to see why they pose another big problem to Bees.