COVENTRY Storm face a catch-up bid at Brandon on Friday after going down 38-52 at Kent in the first leg of their National League KO Cup quarter-final tie.
Dan Greenwood kept up his terrific form for the City Gearboxes Storm, also reclaiming the Bronze Helmet in the last race of the night, but the Kings provided more race winners and completed a string of late 4-2s to take the advantage.
Greenwood matched Kent No.1 Ben Morley as both riders scored 13 apiece, including three wins, but there were several other victories on the home side from Danny Ayres and James Shanes in particular, whilst the Storm only had two other successes apart from Greenwood.
Those came from Martin Knuckey and Darryl Ritchings, both in their third rides as the Storm dug in as they tried to restrict the Kings’ advantage which was quickly built to ten points in the first six races.
The Storm weren’t helped by illness to No.1 Luke Crang which limited his scoring to paid-five, and they were under early pressure at 13-23 down.
The mid-meeting stages went much more according to plan with four shared heats and a Storm 4-2, Knuckey producing a fine move to win Heat 8 against Danno Verge and Adam Sheppard, and Ritchings achieved a good win over Morley in Heat 10.
With four heats to go the gap was down to eight points but the Kings re-asserted control with three successive 4-2s, the Storm hit by a blow in Heat 12 when Ritchings fell when in second place.
Greenwood won the final race against the home side’s top scorers Morley and Ayres, and then defeated Morley to win the Bronze Helmet, but now an error-free display is required on Friday if the Storm are to overturn the deficit.
Manager Laurence Rogers said: “We’re disappointed, we were looking for better than that and now the boys need to get their gating boots on for Friday because it’s still possible for us.
“We were unlucky when Darryl was second, chasing hard and turned it round, so we lost points there and it was a very slick track so there wasn’t a lot of passing.
“Crangy was full of ‘flu so that didn’t help him and he wasn’t really his usual self, and although we did start to pull back into it we faltered near the end again.”
KENT 52: Ben Morley 13, Danny Ayres 12+1, James Shanes 9, Aaron Baseby 7+2, Adam Sheppard 5+1, Jamie Couzins 3+1, Danno Verge 3.
COVENTRY 38: Dan Greenwood 13, Darryl Ritchings 7, Martin Knuckey 6+1, Luke Crang 4+1, Rob Shuttleworth 4+1, Conor Dwyer 4, Callum Walker 0.