COVENTRY made it four wins out of four from their away trips to Reading in the last two seasons - extending their other impressive statistics to eight away wins for the season, nine Elite League wins on the trot and ten in total.
Bees always just about held control, although it took until well after halfway for them to get a firm grip on the meeting, as a full-strength Reading team battled for every point.
And, encouragingly for Coventry, the Racers still have home matches to come against Peterborough and Swindon which may yet offer chances for the play-off contenders to drop points as the Smallmead side can be expected to improve gradually as the meetings go on.
Certainly, this was a fixture which could have proved extremely tricky had the right attitude not been adopted from the start - but that is never a concern with this Coventry team, and they showed their mettle virtually from the word go.
Scott Nicholls and Billy Janniro found themselves out-gated in Heat 1, Nicholls taken wide by Matej Zagar, and that left them facing a 5-1 for a time before Nicholls overhauled home debutant Krzysztof Buczkowski for second spot. Janniro then chased hard for third and finally got the point (and bonus!) with an outside pass as the riders came out of the final turn.
The reserves' race was always going to be crucial, and it was an area in which the Racers hoped to profit, but in fact it was Janniro and Steve Johnston who made the best starts to secure a priceless 5-1 so early in the proceedings, the race win being a real confidence booster for Johnston after his crash at the same venue three weeks ago.
Rory Schlein was still struggling with the after-effects of illness and he was left trailing in Heat 3 as Martin Smolinski worked hard to split the home riders coming off the second bend, Mark Lemon taking the win as the Racers narrowed the gap to two points.
Heat 4 was shared as Sam Simota popped up from nowhere to ride a stormer of a race to beat Chris Harris, but his partner Travis McGowan had totally missed the start and could make no inroads on Johnston. And Bees moved four ahead once more with a quality ride from Nicholls to line up and then charge inside Janusz Kolodziej for the win in Heat 5 as Smolinski held on to third over Lemon.
Zagar just made it around the outside as Heat 6 became very close on the back straight for the first time, the Slovenian just edging between Janniro and the fence, and there was another 4-2 for the Racers in Heat 7 to leave them just 22-20 down as Jonas Davidsson sliced inside Schlein at the end of the first lap and McGowan took a win. Fortunately for Bees, Schlein's night was set to become a whole lot better in his next ride.
Before that, Bees urgently had to rebuild their lead and they did just that with Johnston and rider replacement Harris taking the points from Buczkowski - who, again, was all-action - and Simota, and Harris was up front again in Heat 9 with a comfortable win over Kolodziej and Lemon.
Heat 10 was the big turning point as Zagar had looked unbeatable in his first two rides, but his outside run off turn two was blocked as Schlein made the start for the first time and Smolinski packed into second, and with Schlein extending his lead it was a terrific defence of second place from Smolinski to leave a dejected Zagar facing a shock 5-1. Coventry's ten point lead quickly became twelve with another Nicholls masterclass in Heat 11, this time shooting inside McGowan on the back straight with the consistent Johnston holding off a surprisingly subdued Davidsson for third. And although a tactical ride for Kolodziej in the next race netted six points for the Racers, second and third for Schlein and Janniro over Simota left the Racers needing a series of freak results to snatch a win.
Nicholls was dominant in Heat 13 as Harris was edged out early on and could not find a way past Zagar, and with the gap at nine points, Reading's only hope would have been a tactical substitution. This, however, did not happen and so the 5-1 to the home side from Davidsson - finally coming to life - and Lemon was mere consolation, although Smolinski felt his late effort may well have been good enough for second place ahead of Lemon on the line.
Zagar, who was very quick when out in front, finished off the meeting as he had started it with a win, but Nicholls and Harris were content to provide the race finishes that Coventry needed in the last race, and their impressive away record goes on after another highly efficient display on the road.
READING 44 COVENTRY 49 Monday 20th August 2007 - Sky Sports Elite League B
MERIDIAN LIFTS RACERS Matej Zagar 3 3 1 1* 3 = 11+1 Krzysztof Buczkowski 0 0 1 0 = 1 Janusz Kolodziej 1 2 2 6^ 0 = 11 Mark Lemon 3 0 1* 2* = 6+2 Travis McGowan 0 3 2 2 = 7 Jonas Davidsson 0 1 0 3 = 4 Sam Simota 1 3 0 0 = 4
BUILDBASE BEES Scott Nicholls 2 3 3 3 2 = 13 Olly Allen R/R Rory Schlein 0 0 3 2 = 5 Martin Smolinski 2 1 2 2* 1 = 8+1 Chris Harris 2 2 2* 3 0 1* = 10+2 Billy Janniro 1* 2* 1* 0 1* = 5+4 Steve Johnston 3 1* 3 1 0 = 8+1