THE Buildbase Bees always expected Ipswich to provide tough opposition - but they came good in the closing stages to record a morale-boosting home win and open their Elite League account.
Bees were somewhat nervous early on as the Witches underlined their form of the 2008 season so far, the visitors leading by one point for several races.
However, when Coventry hit back they did so strongly, and they did not allow their opponents back into the meeting in an impressive display over the last six races.
They did it with their two top heat-leaders scoring ten (paid 12) between them - Chris Harris's scoring reduced by a fall in his third ride, whilst Rory Schlein did show a glimpse of his form with some important rides in the second half of the meeting.
But it was a night for the second strings and reserves to step up to the plate, with Olly Allen fully earning his first Heat 15 nomination, and celebrating it with a race win and a 5-1 alongside the outstanding Simon Stead.
Billy Janniro was solid in the middle order and arguably launched Bees' performance with a sterling ride in Heat 9 - and reserve Stanislaw Burza made a telling contribution, having to take seven rides after Andreas Messing crashed out of the meeting in Heat 2.
The first race had been shared, Allen holding his nerve to take a fine win under constant pressure from the in-form Piotr Swiderski, with Robert Miskowiak moving inside Schlein on the third lap - but there was then a lengthy delay after the accident in the reserves' race.
Ipswich held a 5-1 position on the first lap, but guest Shaun Tacey appeared to pick up unwanted drive coming out of the fourth bend, causing him to move across the track into Messing's path. That sent the Swede over the back of his bike, which careered on down the main straight, and the track staff were understandably cautious with Messing as he was complaining of neck pain.
It was clear that Messing would be able to take no further part, which inevitably meant a busy night for Burza, and the signs weren't totally encouraging early on as Tobias Kroner made a confident job of the re-run to win it by some distance and give his team the lead.
Harris and Janniro eased some Coventry nerves with a fast-gating 5-1 over Chris Louis and Steve Johnston, before Jarek Hampel surged away from Stead and Burza in Heat 4, Burza importantly collecting third place ahead of Tacey.
The Witches turned the meeting around with maximum points in Heat 5 thanks to Swiderski and Miskowiak, who rode some unconventional lines in the first lap and a half but sorted themselves out before either Janniro or Harris could make any headway
And that was how things stood for the next four races - Hampel being a tapes to flag winner of Heat 6, Stead taking Heat 7 comfortably as Burza fell at the back, and Swiderski then just getting the better of Allen in the early stages of Heat 8 with Burza doing well to take a point off Kroner.
The meeting really came to life in Heat 9 with Hampel apparently set for his third win of the night, especially when Harris fell on the third bend in his efforts to get around the outside. Janniro, however, was in no mood to settle for second and apparently surprised the Pole with his inside challenge which moved his opponent aside, and Janniro then steamed away to a superb win.
Schlein was in need of a lift, and he got it in Heat 10 with a trademark start from gate three which also accounted for Louis. Better still for Bees, Allen had made it too off the inside, and they managed to hold back the challenge of Johnston to take a match-turning 5-1 and go three points ahead.
Heat 11 looked a tough one on paper, but Stead made it to the first bend in front and there was another huge contribution from Burza, who held Miskowiak at bay throughout the race to give Bees a most unexpected 4-2.
If that was good from Burza, Heat 12 was even better as he shot away from turn four and was then protected by Harris ahead of Louis for a 5-1 which put Bees in control of proceedings.
Stead was at his best in Heat 13 as he too found a way past Hampel, this time taking the outside line to good effect on turn four to sweep into the lead and then fend off Hampel's return challenge at the start of the next lap. With Schlein holding third from the fading Miskowiak, Bees were suddenly eleven points clear and within sight of victory.
The final throw of the dice for the Witches was a tactical ride in Heat 14, which realistically had to go to Johnston on the inside, as Kroner had done little since winning Heat 2. On this occasion, however, it was the German who made the start, Johnston missed it, and Janniro and Burza rode sensibly for second and third knowing the one thing they had to avoid was an 8-1 reverse.
With the match safe, a strong fightback performance from the Bees was made even better in the last race when Allen and Stead shot out of the start to again record maximum points, Swiderski chasing hard at the end of an impressive display, whilst Hampel could make no impression.
So at the end of a testing week, Bees are hopefully back on course after a meeting which could have been allowed to slip away was emphatically turned in their favour by positive riding and a good attitude. Those rumoured panic buttons may have to be put away for the time being...
BUILDBASE BEES 52 Rory Schlein 0 1* 3 1 = 5+1 Olly Allen 3 2 2 2 3 = 12+1 Chris Harris 3 0 0 2* = 5+1 Billy Janniro 2* 1 3 2 = 8+1 Simon Stead 2 3 3 3 2* = 13+1 Andreas Messing N = 0 Stanislaw Burza 2 1* F 1* 1 3 1* = 9+3
IPSWICH 37 Robert Miskowiak 1* 3 0 0 = 4+1 Piotr Swiderski 2 2* 3 2 1 = 10+1 Chris Louis 0 2 0 1 = 3 Steve Johnston 1 1* 1 0^ = 3+1 Jarek Hampel 3 3 2 2 0 = 10 Tobias Kroner 3 0 0 0 3 = 6 Shaun Tacey X 0 1* = 1+1