COVENTRY’S unbeaten home record came to an end with a 42-48 defeat to local rivals Birmingham at Leicester on Sunday.
The Europress Bees could have few complaints over the outcome as they were limited to just four heat wins throughout the meeting, three of which came from No.1 Connor Mountain.
And the only real consolation was Mountain’s victory over the previously undefeated Tom Bacon in Heat 15 which prevented the Brummies from taking all four National Trophy points and keeps Bees just ahead of them in the section – albeit Cradley have now gone top after a big win at Buxton.
But it was a match Coventry never seriously looked like overturning after they had gone six points down after five races, all of which were won by visiting riders.
Bacon made a fast start to get the better of Mountain in Heat 1 and Bees had a let-off in Heat 2 when third-placed Arran Butcher fell, causing Ryan MacDonald to also come down.
The re-run was won clearly by Leon Flint, and it was no surprise that the sensational 15-year-old’s score from seven rides was pivotal to the outcome.
Jack Parkinson-Blackburn, who was originally set to be with Coventry this season, served notice of his intentions by moving inside Luke Ruddick to win Heat 3, and Danyon Hume kept their run going in the next with Jon Armstrong going past Flint for second place.
But a 5-1 from Bacon and Flint in Heat 5 put Bees up against it although there was frustration for Hume in the next as he twice led Mountain only for the race to be stopped - with the Coventry man on top at the third attempt.
Luke Harris split Flint and Callum Walker in Heat 8 but Bees still faced a six-point deficit, and their hopes of a 5-1 in Heat 10 were ended when Parkinson-Blackburn managed to make it past Harris for second spot.
There was another escape for Coventry in the next with the Brummies seemingly set for a certain maximum only for Flint to rear off the final turn and come down literally yards from the chequered flag – handing Armstrong and Jamie Halder a share of the spoils.
But it was to be brief respite for the Bees as Flint held it all together to partner Parkinson-Blackburn to a 5-1 in Heat 12 which put the Brummies eight points up.
Hume came down on the first bend of Heat 13 but team-mate Bacon surged around Mountain off turn two for a shared race, and although Danny Phillips produced a fine first lap to get the better of Flint in Heat 14, the visiting reserve’s second place was enough for his team to win the meeting.
Mountain then finally ended Bacon’s unbeaten run in the final race, leaving the Brummies having to be content with three Trophy points.
Coventry boss Martyn MacDonald said: “It didn’t go right for us at all, and it’s really disappointing to lose our 100 per cent home record.
“The only glimmer of hope that came out of it was that they didn’t take away four points, which does leave us ahead of them in the section, but now we have to put the jigsaw back together and win at their place on Wednesday, which isn’t beyond us but it’s definitely a tough ask.
“We just didn’t make any starts whatsoever, and Birmingham made some brilliant starts. To be fair, we kept the scoreline half-decent, we didn’t get hammered, but to lose at home is a definite kick in the teeth for us.”
COVENTRY 42: Connor Mountain 13, Jon Armstrong 7+1, Danny Phillips 6+2, Jamie Halder 5+2, Luke Harris 5+1, Luke Ruddick 5, Ryan MacDonald 1+1.
BIRMINGHAM 48: Tom Bacon 14, Leon Flint 13+2, Jack Parkinson-Blackburn 12+1, Danyon Hume 8, Callum Walker 1, Arran Butcher 0, Layne Cupitt R/R.