News from Coventry Bees and Storm
With the Bees’ season now over all eyes are on Coventry Storm as their inaugural National League season winds down.
Having been one of the front runners along with Cradley it was hoped that they would take one of the three trophies available from their local rivals.
With the Knock Out Cup long gone, Sunday’s loss in the National League fours leaves them with an uphill struggle to pull back a ten-point first leg deficit in the League play off final.
Cradley 52, Storm 42
National League Play-Off First leg.
Storm was missing the injured Olly Greenwood but recruited Simon Lambert for the number one spot in this vital play-off match. Also storm welcomed back Stefan Nielsen after his recent injury. Cradley were at full strength.
Cradley made a good start with maximum points, coming after a Lambert mistake on turn two.
Martin Knuckey won a shared heat two before Cradley popped in another maximum in heat three.
The next two races were shared before Storm pulled two points back through James Sarjeant capitalising on a Steve Worrall mistake to record Storm’s first race win of the night. Ryan Terry-Daley took third place.
Cradley were soon back in the act with Paul Starke winning heat seven and Matt Williamson riding a superb race to beat Nielsen to third spot.
Heat eight was eventful to say the least. Both Storm riders fell on the first turn but remounting and carrying on. It was not over however as both Cradley men fell at the start of the final lap. Both had enough time to remount and claim the first two places. This left the score at 31-17 to Cradley at the halfway stage.
Sarjeant took a tactical ride in heat nine but was beaten by Max Clegg and with Terry-Daley last, the heat points were shared 4-4.
Heat ten was another eventful effort. After problems at the tapes Nielsen and Worrall collided on the first turn. A rerun with all four back was ordered. Worrall did not appear because of a wrist injury and was out of the meeting. Nathan Greaves had also retired from the match, leaving the homesters with just five men. In the rerun to heat ten Storm took a maximum despite a slight Nielsen mistake.
A Cradley 4-2 followed before Clegg became the party pooper again after beating Storm’s second tactical double rider, Nielsen, in heat twelve. Terry-Daley took third to keep the deficit at ten points.
Lambert and Sarjeant took a heat thirteen 5-1 to bring Storm to within six points.
A two in one heat fourteen went Cradley’s way with Tom Perry just beating Greenwood and Williamson taking Knuckey on the last turn.
Sarjeant managed to split the home pair in the final heat to keep the deficit down to ten points which will give them some sort of chance in the second leg.
Storm scorers: Sarjeant 14, Nielsen 9, Lambert 8(1), Knuckey 6(2), Greenwood 4(1), Terry-Daley 1, Priest 0.
Cradley 18, Storm 11, Mildenhall 11, King’s Lynn 8
National League Fours Final
Memories of Coventry’s last BSPA shared event came when Sunday’s meeting was held up with track problems and almost went the same way. A soft patch entering turn three came to light and after some remedial work the meeting finally went ahead, albeit an hour late.
The meeting was held in three parts. Two groups of four teams fought out the semi-finals over eight heats each; with the top two from each semi going into an eight heat final.
Storm was in group one with Cradley, Buxton and Kent.
There were worries for Storm in heat one when Stefan Nielsen was involved in a first bend crash with Nathan Greaves. He took a long time to recover but eventually came out to win the rerun.
After this Storm were never troubled and with Cradley backing them, the two qualifiers were soon decided.
Group two was a three way fight between Mildenhall, King’s Lynn and Stoke, with the two East Anglian teams coming out on top.
Cradley took heat one of the final through Greaves with Storm’s Luke Priest coming in third.
James Sarjeant won heat two with Cradley’s Tom Perry falling on turn three.
Cradley then won the next three races to have the tournament sewn up with two races to go.
Although Nielsen won the penultimate heat it was too late. Paul Starke won the last to give Cradley a seven point lead.
While these two were the centre of attraction, Mildenhall were always in the hunt and eventually finished level on points with Storm.
A run off for second place between Sarjeant and Josh Bates came to a premature end with Bates falling on the first turn. Second place was awarded to Coventry.
Although there were a few falls, none of them came on the spot which nearly caused the cancellation which must give credit to the track staff for the work they put in.
Sarjeant top scored with four from his two rides. Cradley however had three of the four riders unbeaten, namely Clegg, greaves and Perry.
The second leg of the play-off final at Brandon should be ridden tonight (Wednesday), leaving Storm to finish their season with an away fixture at Plymouth on Friday night. This match was originally scheduled for March 29 but has been postponed twice. There is nothing at stake but no doubt Storm will be hoping to finish on a winning note.