COVENTRY gave their National League play-off hopes a huge boost with a 47-43 win at local rivals Birmingham last night (Wednesday).
The Europress Bees took full advantage of the Brummies’ problems with a disciplined display where mistakes were kept to a minimum, and the outcome was their first away win in the league this season.
They remain seventh in the table for now – but their ‘net’ position is bettered only by top two Mildenhall and Kent, and they now need to maximise their home matches as well as confirm a date to return to Buxton.
Bees provided just four heat wins at Perry Barr as the home heat-leaders dominated, but crucially they ran only three last places, and all four of their victories produced race advantages.
The Brummies, meanwhile, were hamstrung by a Heat One accident for Callum Walker, who was passed either side by Connor Mountain and Danny Phillips exiting turn two before crashing heavily on the back straight.
Walker, a former Coventry Storm rider, suffered suspected breaks to both hands and a foot injury, and was withdrawn from the meeting – which wiped out the home side’s middle-order as they were already using rider-replacement for the injured Danyon Hume.
Luke Harris and Ryan MacDonald had the measure of the home reserves to put Bees ahead with a 5-1 in Heat Two, and Luke Ruddick passed Leon Flint in Heat Three to start a trading of 4-2s over the coming races.
But when Heat Eight came around, Danny Phillips and Harris emphasised Bees’ lower-order supremacy with another 5-1 to put them ten points clear.
The Brummies were always likely to come back in the latter stages when they paired their strong heat-leaders, but Bees rode sensibly for a succession of shared races – and Ruddick was close to beating Flint again in Heat 12 only for the 15-year-old to pull off a fine ride to pass him.
Mountain led Heat 13 before Tom Bacon and James Shanes went past him on turn four on successive laps, but Bees still led by six points with two heats to go, and they wrapped up victory thanks to Harris and Jamie Halder splitting Heat 14 behind Flint.
Bees needed an unlikely advantage from Heat 15 to take all four league points, but Flint reeled off a fourth successive win with Mountain profiting from mechanical trouble for Shanes to take second place.
Manager Martyn Macdonald said: “It was nice to come here and win, and I would imagine it’s also a demoralising result for them, so it worked out well for us.
“I kept re-iterating to the lads that as long as we didn’t run lasts, we would keep points ticking over – it was very unfortunate for them to lose Callum, which limited them to using reserves, but these things do happen in speedway.
“I said beforehand I’d done my homework and everyone seemed happy with the riding order. Danny Phillips was really consistent, he had a good night, and I thought Jamie Halder looked more settled without the pressure of Heat One, so I would think we’ll go with that again.
“We have to keep plugging away now and hopefully get the meetings in before the cut-off, and then that will be a truer reflection of what we can do.”
Bees are next in action back at Leicester on Sunday when they host Plymouth (4pm).