COVENTRY have set up a tasty-looking KO Cup semi-final clash with Poole after overcoming Belle Vue with a much-improved team performance in Friday's second leg.
Skipper Chris Harris had called for a better display than had been the case at Kirkmanshulme Lane, and that was exactly what happened with the Buildbase Bees coming through despite the mid-meeting loss of Harris himself.
And the forthcoming two legs with the Pirates are already meetings to ink into the calendar as the two sides normally produce some thrilling speedway and the Bees ended Poole's interest in all three major competitions last season, as well as this year's Craven Shield.
Bees trailed Belle Vue 49-44 from the first leg of the quarter-final, and remarkably the Aces managed to maintain their aggregate lead throughout the first half of the meeting as the home side were hit by a succession of problems.
Added to that was a hugely impressive performance by guest Piotr Swiderski, who stepped in admirably for the absent Jason Crump and served notice of his form by racing away from gate 4 in Heat 1 as Harris was left adrift in the early stages.
The first dropped point came in Heat 2, which was initially stopped whilst Bees were on a 5-1 as Jonas Raun hit the fence on turn two and was excluded. In the re-run, Ben Barker established himself ahead of team-mate Stan Burza, but on the third lap Burza hit trouble and slowed, allowing Nick Simmons to split the Coventry pairing.
Rory Schlein made a rapid start to take Heat 3 and the lively Barker took advantage of both Charlie Gjedde and Billy Forsberg looking for the same line into the third bend to make it through on the inside of the Swede for another useful point.
But Barker's good run was about to come to an unfortunate end, just when he looked set to take the scalp of the experienced Joe Screen in Heat 4. Barker held a comfortable second place behind Simon Stead, but his engine blew at the start of the third lap, leaving him a hefty repair bill - and allowing Screen and Raun to escape with a 3-3.
Swiderski was a dominant winner of Heat 5 although Bees were pleased with a 3-3 there because Schlein had picked up drive on the second bend and shot across the corner, narrowly missing Burza, and was still able to regain his momentum in time to beat Raun up the back straight for third place.
But although an incident was averted there, they were not so fortunate in Heat 6 when, after the Bees had gated on a 5-1, Harris lifted mid-bend and had to put the bike down, which brought Screen down with him. Screen landed heavily whilst Harris was clipped by his opponent's machine, so it was good to see both riders able to walk off the track after treatment.
However, Screen was clearly in discomfort during the re-run which was won comfortably by Allen, and he unfortunately had to withdraw from the remainder of the meeting having taken a knock to his head.
Still Belle Vue were a point ahead on aggregate and they maintained that position when Burza went from second to fourth in Heat 7, overtaken first by Gjedde and then by Forsberg - and then in Heat 8, Allen romped to another win but Barker suffered clutch problems with his second machine and was unable to score against Forsberg and Raun.
Finally the breakthrough came in Heat 9 with what was a totally predictable 5-1 from Schlein and Stead over Simmons and Raun - although based on what had happened earlier, it was probably still quite a nervous race for all concerned.
And Bees put themselves in control of the tie in Heat 10 when Harris re-emerged to clock the fastest time of the night, backed up by another good start by Allen for another 5-1 ahead of Gjedde, and Forsberg who fell on the second bend.
That was Harris's last action of the night as he was in discomfort with his knee and was withdrawn on medical advice, but the Aces still needed plenty to go their way in the last five races to get back into contention.
Swiderski made it three out of three in Heat 11, collecting six points for a tactical ride whilst Gjedde, who was inevitably going to be required for a tactical substitute, kept his side in touch with a win over Schlein in Heat 12 that kept the aggregate margin at just four points.
Had Swiderski managed to keep his wining run going in Heat 13, the pressure would really have been on - but he missed the start for the first time and found himself behind both Stead and Burza, who was replacing Harris, and the Belle Vue guest could find no way through.
That meant Gjedde needed big points from the handicap in Heat 14, but in a repeat of Crump's tactical substitute ride in the earlier Elite League match, team-mate Forsberg did not make the start from gate 2 and was squeezed out between Allen and Burza.
Gjedde could make no impression from 15-metres and the Bees had it relatively comfortable as they brought home the 5-1 - again underlining the impression that Burza has made at Elite League level, and the gating ability that Bees lose when Allen is not part of the team.
Heat 15 was one of the best of the night, even though there was no overtaking, because Swiderski threw everything he could at Stead for all four laps, and Stead had to ride with no mistakes to hold on to the lead, with third-placed Schlein always in attendance.
As things turned out it was a comfortable aggregate win, and one which could have been much greater, but for much of the night it was simply a case of scoring enough points to go through - that was achieved, and now it's Poole in the semis!
BUILDBASE BEES 56 Chris Harris 2 X 3 = 5 Olly Allen 1* 3 3 2* 3 = 12+2 Rory Schlein 3 1* 3 2 1 = 10+1 Billy Janniro Rider Replacement Simon Stead 3 3 2* 1* 3 3 = 15+2 Stan Burza 1 2 0 2 2* 2* = 9+2 Ben Barker 3 1 R 0 1* = 5+1
BELLE VUE 37 Piotr Swiderski 3 3 6^ 1 2 = 15 Lukasz Jankowski Rider Replacement Charlie Gjedde 2 2 1 3 0# = 8 Billy Forsberg 0 1* 2 0 1 M = 4+1 Joe Screen 2 1* = 3+1 Nick Simmons 2 2 1 0 0 = 5 Jonas Raun 0 X 1* 0 1* 0 0 = 2+2