BEES came within a whisker of securing their seventh win on the road in the Elite League after taking Lakeside all the way in a thrilling 45-45 draw on Monday evening.
The Bees still banked two crucial points from the meeting to extend their lead at the top of the table to five but it could have been more had Lakeside skipper Andreas Jonsson not secured the narrowest of Heat 15 wins over Hans Andersen when the visitors looked set for victory.
The score was tied at 42-42 heading into the final heat and Anderson, who had been forced into a change of bikes, flew from gate two with Chris Harris moving around Jeff Kennett into the vital third place.
However Jonsson regained ground on lap three and took advantage when Andersen drifted slightly wide and the Hammers skipper won the race to the line by the width of a wheel to save a draw for his side.
“I knew I’d lost it when I lifted coming off that corner, and it’s just one of those things,” said Anderson.
“I had to change bikes just before the race because the clutch broke on the bike I’d just won a race on, so I went out on a bike I hadn’t used at all.
“But no excuses, I made the gate and just needed to hold on for less than half a lap and I just made a rider error.”
It was a night of thrills and spills at Purfleet with both sides seeing riders forced to pull out.
Bees were the first to be affected when Stuart Robson came down heavily on the first bend of Heat 1 and was withdrawn with a knock to the head.
All-action reserve Jason Garrity stepped up to the plate with a stunning paid-16 haul as he took extra rides, but Robson was not the only Bees rider in the wars as Danny King, who endured a tough night, also came to grief in Heat 11.
Lakeside were not without their problems too as Adam Ellis picked up a hand injury when a broken chain saw him crash out of Heat 8, whilst Bees asset Adam Roynon suffered a suspected broken collarbone in an early-meeting fall.
Roynon did, however, take part in Heat 12 to collect what proved to be an important third place behind Coventry duo Garrity and James Sarjeant, without which Bees would have won the meeting.
Anderson added: “I think Lakeside can thank (Adam) Roynon for riding with a broken collarbone to get them that one point for a draw, but both teams had a bit of good and bad luck, so in the end it was probably a fair result and a good meeting on TV.”
With seven meetings to go Bees now sit five points ahead of second placed Poole and are next in action when they host King’s Lynn tomorrow (Friday).