COVENTRY fell agonisingly short of a deserved Elite League away point in a 41-49 defeat at Swindon on Thursday.
Skipper Chris Harris and Hans Andersen both put up excellent displays at the Abbey Stadium and were all set for a 5-1 in Heat 15 - only for Andersen to inexplicably fall on the last lap allowing the Robins through for a fortunate 3-3.
The lost point is unlikely to be significant in the big scheme of things, especially with Poole winning at Leicester to wrap up top spot in the table, whilst Bees are strong favourites to finish second ahead of the play-offs assuming they win at home to Leicester and Lakeside.
And there were several encouraging signs in Wiltshire, not least in the displays of their two most experienced riders, that should the sides meet again the Buildbase Bees will be comfortable racing at Swindon.
They were depleted with three of their regular top five ruled out, although Thomas Jorgensen - in for Kyle Howarth - rode far better than his three-point score suggests.
Jason Garrity was the Bees’ first race winner in Heat 2 as he charged inside Lewis Rose on the third bend, and the visitors were in front after the next race as Harris and Max Fricke shut out Grzegorz Zengota for the first 5-1 of the night.
Swindon responded in Heat 5 when Rose made a quick start from the outside to link up with Aaron Summers, the Robins having been forced to switch reserves after Charles Wright had been disqualified for returning to the pits after the race had been stopped.
The next five races were all shared as the Robins maintained a two-point lead, although good gating from the Bees often put them into positions of potential advantage.
Harris and Fricke hit the front in Heat 6 only for Peter Kildemand to sweep around them at the end of the first lap, and Jorgensen almost took the scalp of his fellow Dane with an excellent ride in Heat 8 before being passed on the inside at the start of lap four.
Andersen, who rode some classy first turns throughout, won Heats 7 and 9, and Bees then held a 5-1 in Heat 10 with Harris out-front only for Nick Morris and Zengota to go inside Jorgensen on successive laps, so they trailed 29-31 at the interval.
Swindon extended the lead to four points in Heat 11 as Andersen lost out to Batchelor with Summers moving past Fricke for third - and then home reserve Charles Wright came up with a fine effort to get the better of Garrity and James Sarjeant in Heat 12.
The match-winning race was effectively Heat 13 as Batchelor and Zengota carded a 5-1, although Harris was far from happy with the Pole’s defensive riding as the Bees skipper looked to make his move on the inside.
Andersen became the first rider to defeat Kildemand as he put his bike in all the right places to win Heat 14, with the shared race confirming Swindon’s win on the night.
Bees needed an advantage in Heat 15 for a league point and seemed certain to get it with Andersen moving Zengota wide on the second bend and Harris taking advantage to shoot through the gap - but then with the visitors well clear on the last lap, Andersen suddenly slid wide between turns one and two, the back wheel let go and the result was a fall and a 3-3 from the race rather than the 5-1 Bees deserved.
Andersen said: “I had the last race easily sewn up, I’d done all the hard work and led for three laps and then I made some kind of amateur error.
“It wasn’t a bad night overall but you can’t be happy when you’ve got the race won and you just crash by yourself, especially when it cost us a point as well.”
ELITE LEAGUE SWINDON 49: Troy Batchelor 12+1, Peter Kildemand 11, Grzegorz Zengota 7+3, Charles Wright 6+1, Aaron Summers 5+2, Lewis Rose 5, Nick Morris 3+1 COVENTRY 41: Chris Harris 13+1, Hans Andersen 12+1, Jason Garrity 5+2, Max Fricke 4+1, James Sarjeant 4, Thomas Jorgensen 3, Joonas Kylmakorpi r/r Elite League points: Swindon 3 Coventry 0