COVENTRY were denied victory in the final yards of their Elite League match at Lakeside on Monday as an eventful contest ended 45-45.
The Buildbase Bees still banked two crucial points from the meeting to extend their lead at the top of the table to five, after Hammers skipper Andreas Jonsson secured the narrowest of Heat 15 wins over Hans Andersen just when the visitors looked set for victory.
It was a night of thrills and spills at Purfleet with both sides seeing riders forced to pull out - Bees being affected first when Stuart Robson came down heavily on the first bend of Heat 1 and was withdrawn with a knock to the head.
All-action reserve Jason Garrity stepped up to the plate with a stunning paid-16 haul as he took extra rides, but Robson wasn’t the only Coventry rider in the wars as Danny King, who endured a tough night, also came to grief in Heat 11.
Lakeside weren’t without their problems either as Adam Ellis picked up a hand injury when a broken chain saw him crash out of Heat 8, whilst Bees asset Adam Roynon suffered a suspected broken collarbone in an early-meeting fall.
Roynon did, however, take part in Heat 12 to collect what proved to be an important third place behind Coventry duo Garrity and James Sarjeant, without which Bees would have won the meeting.
Skipper Chris Harris was involved in several frantic races, including the re-start of Heat 1 when he drove inside Mikkel Bech for second place after Garrity’s bold bid for the lead had sent him wildly out of shape on turn four.
Garrity responded to win both Heats 2 and 4, with Andersen supplying victory in the third, and Garrity’s 5-1 with Joonas Kylmakorpi in Heat 4 gave Bees an early two-point lead.
The advantage was doubled in Heat 6 as Harris forcefully moved inside Kennett which almost created space for Andersen to follow him through - but Jonsson and Davey Watt levelled the scores in the next race as the Australian cut back inside King and Kylmakorpi.
Bees regained the advantage in Heat 9 thanks to a fast start from Kylmakorpi and a superb first lap from Garrity to get the better of Bech, but the Hammers hit back again as Kennett gained revenge on Harris in Heat 10 with an inside pass to cut the gap to two.
King’s crash in Heat 11 saw the meeting turn on its head as the home side were awarded a 5-1, but with Ellis out of contention and Roynon far from fit it was easy enough for Garrity and Sarjeant to put Bees 37-35 up after 12.
The big Heat 13 went Coventry’s way too as Andersen hit the front with Harris passing both Kennett and Jonsson only for the Swede to come back around the outside into second place - but the Bees’ four-point lead was short-lived as Kennett and Richard Lawson levelled the scores again with a 5-1 over King and Kylmakorpi in Heat 14.
At 42-42, Lakeside had the preferable gates 1 and 3 for Heat 15, and Andersen had been forced into a change of bikes - but initially it didn’t affect him as he flew from gate 2 with Harris moving around Kennett into the vital third place.
Jonsson, however, regained ground on lap three and took advantage when Andersen lifted on the back straight, pinning the inside as Andersen drifted slightly wide, and the Hammers skipper won the race to the line by the width of a wheel to save a draw for his side.
Andersen said: “I knew I’d lost it when I lifted coming off that corner, and it’s just one of those things.
“I had to change bikes just before the race because the clutch broke on the bike I’d just won a race on, so I went out on a bike I hadn’t used at all.
“But no excuses, I made the gate and just needed to hold on for less than half a lap and I just made a rider error.
“I think Lakeside can thank (Adam) Roynon for riding with a broken collarbone to get them that one point for a draw, but both teams had a bit of good and bad luck, so in the end it was probably a fair result and a good meeting on TV.”
LAKESIDE 45: Andreas Jonsson 14, Edward Kennett 9+1, Mikkel Bech 7+1, Richard Lawson 6+1, Davey Watt 5+1, Adam Roynon 2+1, Adam Ellis 2. COVENTRY 45: Jason Garrity 15+1, Hans Andersen 10, Chris Harris 9+1, Joonas Kylmakorpi 6+1, James Sarjeant 4+3, Danny King 1, Stuart Robson 0.