More off-track problems on Friday did little to help Coventry Bees’ attempts to reach the Elite League play-offs.
For reasons not yet satisfactorily explained, Bees had to go into the match with Belle Vue just tracking five riders. Rider replacement was used for the suspended Edward Kennett but Bees were unable to track a number seven which meant three races had only one Bees rider. Understandably Belle Vue, who themselves still have faint hopes of a top four finish, cashed in on Bees misfortunes and snatched a 49-41 victory, making Bees hopes that much harder. Nick Morris was down to ride at number seven but was not available, presumably ill, although he scored 21 points at Leicester the following night. Josh Auty was called in as a late replacement but never made it to Brandon. The most puzzling thing was that Peter Kildemond was in the pits but due to some contractual problems was unable to ride.
Bees 41, Belle Vue 49
The aforementioned problems meant Bees went into the match tracking only five riders. With only one reserve in the side, it meant that they could only track one rider in three of the races. Bees were also without Emil Sayfutdinov and brought in Davey Watt as a guest. Both sides utilised Rider replacement, Bees for the suspended Edward Kennett and the visitors for the injured Patrick Hougaard.
Interest was centered on Piotr Pawlicki, younger brother of Przemyslaw who was making his debut for Bees. The match itself could well have been labelled Bees past and present as four of the visitors had worn Bees colours in the past two seasons.
Despite the problems, Bees made a good start with Kenni Larsen and Watt heading home Chris Harris for an opening 5-1.
Pawlicki jr. Was left to face the visiting pair on his own in heat two and made the ideal start to his Bees career when he led from the gate and after blocking and attempt by Morten Risager to pass on the back straight, rode to a comfortable win.
Belle Vue hit back in the next. Jordan Frampton led from the start but Przemyslaw Pawlicki went by on turn two but attempts by Ryan Fisher to follow were blocked. Fisher then lost third place to Ricky Kling at the end of the second lap. A last ditch attempt by Fisher to regain third place ended with Kling on the floor and Fisher excluded.
Rory Schlein showed he still knew the best way around Brandon when he combined with Risager to keep out Larsen and bring the visitors level on points.
Harris and Lukasz Jankowski repeated the dose in heat five to open up a four-point lead.
Bees pulled back in the next. Larsen took the lead from Schlein coming out of turn two and Watt picked up second from Kling on lap two to leave Bees trailing by two points.
Fisher was not having a good night. As Bees solo representative in heat seven he was beaten by the visiting pair from the start. He picked up speed and soon passed Risager. He made up ground on Frampton but his efforts came to nothing when he suffered machine failure on the last lap and had to push his machine home for the solitary point.
Larsen was an easy winner of heat eight but all eyes were on Piotr Pawlicki. Last away he passed Jankowski at the end of the first lap and then set off after Risager and just failed to get the verdict in a close finish. This left Bees trailing by 26-22 at the halfway stage.
Bees looked to get back into the match in heat nine. The Pawlicki brothers made the start and did a good blocking job on Schlein coming out of turn two. They held out for three laps until possibly inexperience on the part of Piotr let them down. Just before entering the Rugby turn for the last time he looked back and seeing Schlein so close appeared to lose concentration and fell. In the panic, Schlein saw his chance and slipped through into the lead. With Kling being gifted a third a probable 5-1 was turned into a 2-4 and Bees were now up against it.
Watt and Larsen took a 5-1 in the next to reduce the deficit but Harris overtook Przemyslaw Pawlicki on the third lap of heat eleven and with Jankowski third in another three man contest, Bees once again trailed.
Fisher finally got the verdict over Frampton in heat twelve after the referee had to consult the track video. A mistake by Piotr Pawlicki at the end of the first lap put him out of the running so a 3-3 was all Bees got out of the race.
Harris and Schlein made no mistake in taking maximum points out of heat thirteen and virtually sealing the match for the visitors.
Schlein was out again to win the next before an incident packed heat fifteen saw Belle Vue take all four Match points on offer. In the first attempt to run Harris and Larsen tangled entering the first turn. The referee ordered all four back. At the second attempt the pair again clashed, this time on turn three. Harris was deemed the cause of the stoppage and was excluded. In the restart Przemyslaw Pawlicki stalked Schlein all the way and appeared to have got the verdict on the line. However after again consulting the video, the referee awarded the win to Schlein and giving Belle Vue the win by 49-41.
Bees undoubtedly suffered through the missing reserve and the points would probably just have given them win although it would have been close.
Top scorer for Bees was Kenni Larsen, who is now settling in to Elite League racing well. Piotr Pawlicki also made an encouraging debut and once Bees can again track a full strength team they are well capable of reaching the top four.
Bees’ scorers: Larsen 13(2), Pr. Pawlicki 10, Watt 8(1), Pi. Pawlicki 5(1), Fisher 5, Josh Auty DNR.
There is no meeting at Brandon on Friday but on Bank Holiday Monday Bees take on Peterborough twice. In the Morning they go to Alwalton and in the evening they host the Panthers. These matches take on even more importance after last Friday with Bees now needing to take points from both matches. Bees lost narrowly at Peterborough in the recent cup match after making a slow start and this time need to be in contention from the start.
The Panthers have already won at Brandon but recently have been poor travellers. The Peterborough meeting starts at 11.00 a.m. while tapes up at Brandon is 7.30 p.m.