News from Coventry Bees and Storm
Coventry Buildbase Bees fans witnessed an amazing change of fortunes in the space of just four days. After a weakened team pulled out all the stops to beat League leaders King’s Lynn on Thursday, a much stronger team went to Swindon on Monday and were beaten out of sight by a 29-point margin. This makes it almost certain that Bees and Eastbourne will be fighting it out for the final play-off place.
Storm has already qualified for the national League play-offs and four points on the road on Sunday keeps them in second place in the table. A narrow win at Buxton was followed by a one-point defeat at Stoke.
Bees 52 King’s Lynn 38
This match was moved forward a day because of the big day at the RICOH. Unfortunately it left Bees with three riders unavailable from the original team. With Ben Barker already out, Kenneth Hansen, Kyle Howarth and Jason Garrity were also out. Rider-replacement was utilised for Barker while Stuart Robson and Max Fricke came in at guest. Problems came in replacing Garrity. With no reserve available from the fast-track list, Luke Priest was drafted in. King’s Lynn objected and after some discussion Bees decided to ride with just four riders, which meant that they could only track one rider in three races. King’s Lynn was without the injured Niels Kristian Iversen and drafted in Scott Nicholls.
King’s Lynn made the opening moves with Kenneth Bjerre winning heat one. Robson won the battle for third place with Robert Lambert to keep the scores level.
James Sarjeant took a comfortable second the three man heat two and just failed to hold out Rory Schlein in the next which was won by Chris Harris.
The visitors lead was increased in the next when Lambert beat Bees only contender Fricke to take a 4-2.
It was Harris and Andersen in the next and despite drifting on the first turn Harris recovered quickly to combine with Andersen to bring the scores level.
Bees had stroke of good fortune in the next. Schlein led all the way, only to fall on the last turn, leaving Harris and Fricke to take a welcome 5-1.
Heat seven was restarted after Lewis Kerr fell on the second turn. In the restart Nicklas Porsing fought off challenges from first Sarjeant and then Robson for a good win. Bees went further ahead in heat eight. Robson and Fricke gated but Fricke hit a first turn bump and drifted out, letting Nicholls through. Lambert pulled out so the resulting 4-2 made the score 27-21 to Bees with seven races to go.
Sarjeant rode a good race to win the three man heat nine before Bees increased their lead in a heat ten which turned sour for the visitors. Schlein fell on a ragged first turn and was excluded. In the rerun Nicholls suffered an engine malfunction as he left the start, leaving Andersen and Robson to take a 5-0.
It went wrong again for Lynn in the next. Bjerre was given a tactical ride. Porsing took the lead but was passed by Harris in typical’ Bomber’ style on lap two. Porsing then ignored his partner and carried on for second, leaving Bjerre with just one point doubled up instead of a possible four.
Robson used the outside line to take the lead and win a shared heat twelve.
Heat thirteen saw the battle of the top men. Bjerre made the start but Andersen and Harris moved Schlein out of the way on turn two. Harris then set off in pursuit of Bjerre and got his man on the back straight of the final lap.
Fricke split the Lynn pair in heat fourteen to restrict them to a 4-2, which left Bees needing just two points from the final race to take all three points.
In the race Harris and Andersen completed a good night with maximum points and make the final score 52-38 to Bees.
This match went down as one of the best seen at Brandon all season. At the start the odds were stacked heavily against Bees but the row over Priest fired everyone up which led to a magnificent effort. Leading the way was Harris who completed a superb six-ride maximum, most of the points coming from the back. He received excellent support with everyone chipping in with at least seven paid points.
Bees’ scorers; Harris 18, Robson 11(2), Andersen 10(2), Fricke 7(1), Sarjeant 6(1).
Swindon 60, Bees 31.
Apart from Max Fricke guesting for the still injured Ben Barker, both teams were at full strength for this vital match.
Bees did not make the best of starts with Andersen and Howarth easily outpaced by the home pair in the opening heat.
The reserves managed a share of the heat two points before Swindon took another 5-1 after Troy Batchelor passed a sluggish Harris.
Heat four was shared after Sarjeant rode a good race to pass Nathan Greaves on the third lap. Another home maximum followed which prompted Bees to use a tactical double ride as early as heat six. Harris was given the honour but it was to no avail as both Harris and a strangely out of touch Anderson had been demoted to the back by the end of lap one.
Worse was to come as yet another home 5-1 opened up a twenty point gap from which Bees, even at their comeback best, were never going to recover. At this stage with seven heats gone the only Swindon man to be beaten by a Bees rider was luckless reserve Nathan Greaves.
Fricke stopped the rot in heat eight, becoming the first Bee to win a race after cutting through the home pairing coming out of turn two.
The reserves race was again shared before Bees used their second tactical ride, Fricke being the man entrusted with the black and white helmet. He rode a good race to take second place behind Nick Morris.
Andersen changed bikes and promptly won heat eleven but once again the heat points were shared.
Bees looked set for their third race win of the night when Howarth led heat twelve only to take a nasty fall on lap two and was excluded. Greaves pulled out of the rerun leaving Swindon to take a 3-2 advantage.
Andersen won his second in heat thirteen but that was it as far as Bees were concerned, Swindon finishing off with two maximum heat wins, the second coming after Morris took a nasty fall after clashing with Andersen on the first turn. This left the final score at 60-31 and no League points at all for Bees.
Fricke proved what a good guest he is and top scored along with reserve Sarjeant. Harris had a night to forget, following from his earlier eighteen point maximum; he could manage a meagre two points.
The form of Hansen does not improve and must be a worry for the matches to come.
Bees scorers; Sarjeant 8(1), Fricke 8, Andersen 7, Garrity 3(2), Howarth 3, Harris 2, Hansen 0
Buxton 43, Storm 46
Although the weather was good, track conditions were not and crashes were prevalent.
Storm went into the lead after a heat two 5-0 and held it until heat eight when the home side went one ahead.
4-2’s were then traded in the next heats and a shared heat eleven kept the home advantage.
A 5-1 put Buxton three ahead but Storm soon replied with a 4-2 and 5-1 in the next.
A shared heat fifteen was good enough to give them three points for a 46-43 victory.
Storm scorer’s; Dan Greenwood 11(20, Oliver Greenwood 11, Ryan Terry-Daley, Martin Knuckey 7(1), Luke Priest 6, James Sarjeant 4.
Stoke 45, Storm 44.
Storm had to dash across to Stoke but with the Buxton match running late the start had to be delayed.
Storm made up for lost time with an opening 5-1, although the Stoke reserves pulled it back in the next. Things were tight all through but two home 4-2’s in the next five races left Stoke 23-19 up after seven races.
Storm then drew level with a heat eight maximum before Stoke scored one of their own to restore the lead.
Storm then gradually hit back with a 3-2 and two 4-2’s to lead by one point with two heats to go. Stoke won the penultimate race leaving Storm needing a 4-2 i9n the final race.
It was a tense race, being restarted twice and in the end Stoke’s Lee Payne completed a maximum and held out Olly Greenwood and Sarjeant to take the match.
Storm scorers; Sarjeant 14(1), D.Greenwood 10, Priest 8(2), O.Greenwood 8, Knuckey 4, Terry-Daley 0.
This weekend is a vital one as to whether Bees reach the play-offs.
On Friday night they entertain Eastbourne and due to the early season weather, this will be a double-header with two sets of League points at stake. After the Swindon defeat, these matches take on even more significance as these are now the teams vying for fourth spot in the league. Bees need to be on their guard for although the Eagles have yet to win on the road, they have riders familiar with the Brandon circuit, especial Joonas Kylmakorpi, who had a spell with Bees a couple of years ago. This meeting starts at the earlier time of 7pm.
On Monday they race against Poole, who are almost certain of their place, but are always dangerous opponents.