COVENTRY Storm put in a battling display at Cradley on Monday and were unlucky to go away with a 38-52 defeat.
The City Gearboxes Storm improved greatly on their heavy defeat at Kent last week and but for a couple of moments of misfortune, they could have taken a National League point from the meeting.
What they did struggle to do was to provide race wins, as a top-heavy Heathens side dominated in that department with Max Clegg and Ashley Morris both scoring maximums – but a hard-working display throughout kept them in contention.
With Liam Carr still on the sidelines, the rider-replacement facility was more successful for the Storm in the No.3 position with eight points – whilst the four Cradley gained from Jack Kingston’s rides out-scored any of his totals so far this season.
Morris broke the track record in the opening race, and the Heathens edged in front in the next with Kyle Roberts cruelly denied second place when a throttle problem on the final bend caused him to fall.
But Dan Greenwood and Martin Knuckey hit straight back, pouncing on an early error from Luke Chessell in Heat 3 to strike the first 5-1 of the evening.
The Storm suffered a blow in Heat 6 when Ben Basford partnered Morris to a 5-1, holding back the challenge of Ryan Terry-Daley, and the Heathens’ four-point lead was maintained across six successive shared races.
Knuckey was close to defeating Clegg in Heat 7 only to lift on the back straight which enabled the Cradley captain to pounce on the third lap, but the Storm kept in contention with a solid-scoring Conor Dwyer controlling Heat 8 and Terry-Daley and Callum Walker both passing James Purchase in the next.
Greenwood dived inside Clegg on the third bend in Heat 11 only for Clegg to re-pass on the way out, and with three heats to go the Heathens led 38-34.
However, Morris and Clegg then dominated the closing stages as they combined to squeeze out Greenwood in Heat 13, and a 4-2 to the home side in Heat 14 saw Walker just miss out to Purchase in the battle for third place.
A final Morris/Clegg 5-1 in the last race ensured the final score didn’t truly reflect the meeting, as this was far more encouraging from the Storm than last week at Central Park.
Boss Laurence Rogers said: “I’m proud of the boys tonight, they battled hard and the result doesn’t justify their efforts, being without Liam and Jamie (Halder).
“It was a good team performance with a great spirit amongst them. Everyone chipped in with what they needed to do, and we have to take that on to Mildenhall on Sunday now.”
CRADLEY 52: Max Clegg 16+2, Ashley Morris 15, Luke Chessell 9, James Purchase 7, Ben Basford 4+2, Bradley Andrews 1, Jack Kingston R/R. COVENTRY 38: Dan Greenwood 11, Martin Knuckey 9+2, Conor Dwyer 7+4, Ryan Terry-Daley 7, Callum Walker 4+2, Kyle Roberts 0, Liam Carr R/R.