COVENTRY Storm picked up a valuable National League point after a narrow 48-42 defeat at the Isle of Wight on Tuesday.
The Storm had no answer to the Islanders’ teenage sensation Adam Ellis who scored a 21-point maximum from reserve for the home side, but a fine battling effort kept them in contention throughout the meeting.
Skipper James Sarjeant and Luke Crang were especially impressive, Sarjeant winning three of his first four rides and Crang adapting superbly on his first visit to the circuit, and also in his first match in the top five of the side.
A 5-1 in Heat 3 from Oliver Greenwood and Joe Jacobs levelled things up at 9-9, and Crang then combined with Robert Branford two races later to put the Storm four points up.
It took the home side four more heats to restore parity, thanks to two 4-2s, and they regained the lead with a big 5-1 in an awarded Heat 12 when Jacobs and Brandon Freemantle collided going into the third bend, with the Storm contesting Jacobs’s disqualification.
With Ellis still having two rides to come, the visitors needed to ensure they didn’t concede a further four-point advantage to take something from the trip, and Sarjeant’s win in Heat 13 aided their cause, as did a mechanical failure for the Islanders’ Tom Young when he held third place.
Greenwood split Ellis and Darryl Ritchings in Heat 14 leaving the Storm needing an unlikely 5-1 from the last race to draw – but also needing to avoid conceding a 5-1 to leave with nothing.
The eventual outcome was a 4-2 to the Islanders as Ellis completed his maximum but Branford held off the attentions of Ben Hopwood to make sure of a deserved point for Coventry at a venue where the home side had scored 68 points one week earlier.
Storm boss Laurence Rogers said: “We’ll take the point, it would have been nice to have had more because we did have the lead at one time, but with Ellis at reserve it’s always going to be tough and he’ll be there until August.
“I felt JJ’s disqualification was unfair, he went inside Brandon Freemantle who hooked up on the back of him and they both went into the fence.
“But Crangy was tremendous with paid-10, Sarj had three heat wins, and there was some really good stuff. It’s a point gained, and they’re all in one piece and looking forward to Buxton on Sunday which we’ll be looking to win.”
ISLE OF WIGHT 48: Adam Ellis 21, Brandon Freemantle 9+3, Ben Hopwood 9, Darryl Ritchings 4, Paul Starke 3+1, Tom Young 2+1, Danny Stoneman r/r.
COVENTRY 42: James Sarjeant 11, Robert Branford 9+1, Luke Crang 8+2, Joe Jacobs 6+1, Oliver Greenwood 6+1, Ryan Terry-Daley 1, James Shanes 1.
ISLE OF WIGHT 48 Paul Starke 0 1* 0 2 = 3+1 Danny Stoneman Rider Replacement Ben Hopwood 1 1 3 3 1 = 9 Darryl Ritchings 0 0 2 1 1 =4 Tom Young 1* 1 0 R = 2+1 Adam Ellis 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 = 21 Brandon Freemantle 2* 2 2 1* 2* = 9+3
COVENTRY 42 Robert Branford 2 3 1* 1 2 = 9+1 Luke Crang 1* 2* 3 2 = 8+2 Joe Jacobs 2* 2 2 X = 6+1 Oliver Greenwood 3 0 1* 2 = 6+1 James Sarjeant 3 3 2 3 0 = 11 Ryan Terry-Daley 0 0 0 1 = 1 James Shanes 1 0 0 0 = 1