COVENTRY produced a remarkable comeback to edge a thrilling 47-46 win over Elite League Champions Poole at Brandon on Friday.
An extraordinary meeting saw the Buildbase Bees fall 12 points down after just four races before taking the lead in Heat 12 with the advantage then swinging from one team to the other.
And although the Bees took a three-point lead into Heat 15 there still looked set to be a heartbreaking finale – until skipper Chris Harris re-passed Pirates guest Freddie Lindgren on the run to the line to leave the visitors deflated after an epic contest.
The early stages gave little hint of the drama that was to follow with the Pirates racing to three 5-1s in the first four heats, draft reserves Adam Ellis and Kyle Newman both running riot as they teamed up with Lindgren and Krzysztof Buczkowski for maximums whilst combining with each other in Heat 2.
The only shared race in that run came when Hans Andersen held back the challenge of Harris in Heat 3, but with the scores at 6-18 Bees had given themselves a mountain to climb.
There was a revival in Heat 5 when Buczkowski spectacularly came to grief entering the back straight, and the re-run saw James Sarjeant round Ellis off the second bend before a fired-up Jason Garrity – mounted on Josh Bates’s bike – went past them both to give Bees a 5-1.
Poole hit back in Heat 6 but crucially a 5-1 became a 4-2 when Lindgren ran out of fuel off the final bend to allow Danny King to split the visitors’ pairing.
With the gap at ten points Bees made no mistake with their tactical ride as Harris roared to the fastest time of the season whilst Krzysztof Kasprzak held back Buczkowski for an 8-1 – but it appeared to be a case of delaying the inevitable as Newman and Ellis got the better of Garrity and Bates, who fell on the first bend, in Heat 8.
Garrity responded with a super show to get the better of Buczkoswski in Heat 9, but Bees still went into the final six races seven points adrift.
Harris and King out-trapped Lindgren in Heat 10 only for Ellis to fall on the third bend to force a stoppage – but the home pairing did it again in the re-run to narrow the gap to three.
Kasprzak headed Davey Watt in Heat 11 whilst Garrity stole a crucial point by storming inside Andersen on turn three to force the former Bees rider into an error.
The Pirates still had the comforting presence of the second reserves race to fall back on – but it didn’t turn out that way as Sarjeant made a rapid start from gate three and held back the considerable challenge of Newman, whilst Bates squeezed inside Ellis on the first lap for a 4-2 to put Bees just ahead.
Back came the visitors in a frantic Heat 13 with Lindgren repelling Harris throughout the race whilst Andersen did likewise to Kasprzak, putting Poole 41-40 ahead and looking strong for Heat 14.
But the formbook was well and truly upset when Bates, taking the rider replacement ride for Kacper Woryna, made a great start and clamped Buczkowski on the first two turns – and the British Under-21 Champion then rode maturely to hold his second place with King out-front to put Bees three points up.
A second place in Heat 15 was all they needed – but it was by no means straightforward as Andersen raced clear for the Pirates whilst Harris suffered a major issue with his back chain, which he was expecting to snap during the race.
At the end of lap two, the wide line he was taking as a result allowed Lindgren to go through for the second place which looked set to win it for Poole – but fortune finally favoured the Bees when Lindgren suffered a puncture on the last bend and Harris duly won the race to the finishing line for the vital, match-winning two points.
Coventry manager Gary Havelock said: “I’m really proud of the boys, and it’s probably my best win since I’ve been team manager. We’ve had other wins, away wins, but to do what we’ve done tonight to a team like Poole was sensational.
“I thought the whole team were fantastic at various stages, and the rides of James in Heat 12 and Josh in Heat 14 were just phenomenal.
“Everyone has been panicking, but I’ve been saying we aren’t far away. It seems like the whole world is against us at times, but the young boys especially feed off the crowd, and if we can have that sort of atmosphere week-in week-out we’ll be alright.”
ELITE LEAGUE COVENTRY 47: Chris Harris 15, Jason Garrity 9, Danny King 8+2, James Sarjeant 6+1, Krzysztof Kasprzak 5+1, Josh Bates 4+1, Kacper Woryna r/r POOLE 46: Kyle Newman 10+3, Hans Andersen 10, Adam Ellis 9+1, Fredrik Lindgren 8+1, Krzysztof Buczkowski 7, Davey Watt 2, Brady Kurtz r/r Elite League points: Coventry 3 Poole 1
BUILDBASE BEES 47 Krzysztof Kasprzak 0 2* 3 0 = 5+1 Jason Garrity 1 3 1 3 1 0 = 9 Danny King 1* 2 2* 3 = 8+2 Kacper Woryna Rider Replacement Chris Harris 2 6^ 3 2 2 = 15 James Sarjeant 0 1 2* R 0 3 = 6+1 Josh Bates 1 F M R 1 2* = 4+1
POOLE 46 Fredrik Lindgren 2* 1 1 3 1 = 8+1 Brady Kurtz Rider Replacement Davey Watt 0 0 2 R = 2 Krzysztof Buczkowski 3 X 1 2 1 = 7 Hans Andersen 3 3 0 1 3 = 10 Adam Ellis 3 3 1 2* X 0 = 9+1 Kyle Newman 2* 2* 3 1* 2 = 10+3