COVENTRY again had to display plenty of character to get the better of local opposition at Brandon, as they raced to a 48-42 win over Wolverhampton.
The Buildbase Bees were again restricted to two points from the meeting, but there were stages where Wolves threatened to score far more than one, and it took big displays by home riders to get their side over the line.
The meeting came to a dramatic finale when Chris Harris was brought down by Piotr Pawlicki on the back straight of Heat 15 with Wolves needing a 5-1 to draw, and the Pole was disqualified as the cause of the accident.
Neither of the visitors’ top two enjoyed nights to remember, with World Champion Tai Woffinden running a last place in Heat 1 when he lifted on the second bend and dropped to the back – and after an excellent win from Bees guest Simon Lambert in Heat 2, the home side advanced into a six-point lead when Kenneth Hansen superbly rounded the opposition in Heat 3 to join Harris for a 5-1.
Swedish youngster Jacob Thorssell kept Wolves in contention with his second win of the night in Heat 4, but Bees appeared in control when Harris and Hans Andersen took maximum points in the next race and Pawlicki no-scored again in Heat 6 after mechanical problems caused him to take a 15-metre penalty.
Ryan Fisher, on his farewell appearance, took the first of two wins in a shared Heat 7 but fortunes began to swing in the next when Kyle Howarth crashed when attempting a burst around the outside to join Hansen for a possible 5-1.
Howarth was unable to take any further part in the meeting amidst concerns over a scaphoid injury which immediately meant his final scheduled ride, Heat 14, looked set to be a pressure race.
That became increasingly likely when James Sarjeant fell in Heat 9 when third and Wolves notched a 5-1 in the re-run – immediately backed up by Pawlicki and Ricky Wells in the next with the Pole looking ominously fast, and the scores were suddenly level at 30-30.
Hansen, though, put the meeting back in Coventry’s court with a stunning ride to sweep around Woffinden on the first lap of Heat 11, and Fisher prevented any immediate Wolves comeback by winning a shared Heat 12 ahead of Thorssell.
With Bees two-points up, Heat 13 was critical and Andersen conjured a start from gate three as Harris forced Woffinden wide on turn one, and the resulting 5-1 put the home side 42-36 up, albeit with that tough Heat 14 to come.
There was nearly a sensation when Lambert’s outside burst took him past not only Joe Jacobs but also Ty Proctor, and although the Australian replied within a lap, Lambert’s useful second place meant Bees went in to the last race four points to the good.
Harris duly made the start from the inside but as he swung wide off bend two, Pawlicki saw his chance on the inside and the two riders made contact some way down the back straight, Harris coming to grief and thankfully being avoided by Thorssell and Hansen.
Pawlicki was disqualified as the cause of the stoppage, which meant Bees had won the meeting, but Thorssell frustrated their bid for all three match points as he held second place ahead of Hansen throughout the re-run, Harris picking himself up to deliver another hugely popular race win.
Bees boss Gary Havelock said: “If you’d offered me two points before the meeting I would have taken them. I was a little worried about this one, especially without Jason (Garrity).
“We had a chance for all three points, but on the flip side before the tapes went up in Heat 15 we could have ended up with one, so we’ll take the two and move on.
“We hope it’s not too bad with Kyle, but we’ll have to wait and see – apart from that, everything is looking good, and hard as it is on Fish, who was fantastic tonight, you have to look at going from a team which could potentially make the play-offs to a team who could genuinely win the league, and you can’t let those opportunities pass by.”
BUILDBASE BEES 48: Chris Harris 11+2, Kenneth Hansen 11+1, Ryan Fisher 8+1, Hans Andersen 8, Simon Lambert 6, Kyle Howarth 3+1, James Sarjeant 1. WOLVERHAMPTON 42: Jacob Thorssell 11+1, Joe Jacobs 6+2, Ricky Wells 6+1, Ashley Morris 5+1, Tai Woffinden 5, Ty Proctor 5, Piotr Pawlicki 4.
BUILDBASE BEES 48 Hans Andersen 2 3 0 3 = 8 Ryan Fisher 1* 3 1 3 = 8+1 Kenneth Hansen 2* 2 3 3 1 = 11+1 Kyle Howarth 2 1* X = 3+1 Chris Harris 3 2* 1 2* 3 = 11+2 Simon Lambert 3 0 1 F 2 = 6 James Sarjeant 1 0 X F = 1
WOLVERHAMPTON 42 Tai Woffinden 0 3 2 0 = 5 Jacob Thorssell 3 3 1* 2 2 = 11+1 Ricky Wells 1 1 2 2* = 6+1 Ty Proctor 0 2 0 3 = 5 Piotr Pawlicki 0 0 3 1 X = 4 Joe Jacobs 2 1* 2* 1 = 6+2 Ashley Morris R 1 3 1* = 5+1