THE Buildbase Bees were left devastated by a late turnaround as they were denied their second away win of the season in unfortunate circumstances.
They held an eight point lead with four heats to go and appeared to have the match under control, but a sequence of incidents saw the Aces take a 5-0 in Heat 13 and then the crucial match-winning advantage in the last race.
It was harsh on the Buildbase Bees who looked to be giving the perfect team performance, with Rory Schlein and Simon Stead both much-improved on their recent KO Cup displays at Kirkmanshulme Lane and Ben Barker, standing in for Olly Allen, coming up trumps in the middle-order.
Skipper Chris Harris was still below full fitness but scored seven from his first three before he and Schlein suffered the double-disaster in Heats 13 and 15.
Heavy rain during the day moved away and the track was conducive to good racing, with Barker immediately closing down James Wright on the first bend of Heat 1 to protect a 3-3 behind Crump, who was close to track record pace, and Harris.
The home side took the lead in Heat 2, despite both Bees reserves making good starts. Stan Burza overslid on turn three and went from first to last, with Patrick Hougaard, who had gone past Andreas Messing in the early stages, leading the charge through and Messing and Nick Simmons collecting second and third.
Bees levelled the scores immediately with their own 4-2 in Heat 3 as Simon Stead launched clear for a win and Barker rounded Forsberg on the first lap. The Swede then slowed to walking pace which even allowed Barker time to fall at the start of lap four and re-mount for a point.
Schlein and Messing held a 5-1 position for the first two laps in Heat 4, but Messing went too wide and was overtaken by Hougaard, also leaving a gap for Wright to follow him through and give the Aces a shared heat.
Heat 5 also resulted in a 3-3 as Charlie Gjedde outpaced Harris with Barker again holding on to a good third ahead of Forsberg - who was to turn his night around spectacularly in the second half of the meeting.
Before that, Belle Vue again went two points to the good with a 4-2 in Heat 6, Burza over-locking in turn two to give a chance to the slower-starting Wright - but then came two maximum Bees advantages to put them in charge of the meeting.
With the rider replacement for Billy Janniro seeing Schlein out to partner Stead in Heat 7, it was a race which always looked likely to provide big points, although they were briefly hampered by Hougaard who fell on the third bend when he was holding second place from Stead.
Bees took the 5-1 as a result, and they did so again in an excellent Heat 8 which saw Messing gate, be overtaken by Hougaard and then make it back around the young Dane, with Barker then following him through before making an error on the final bend and only just staying in front of a recovering Wright.
The home side were under mounting pressure and Forsberg managed some kind of escape for them in Heat 9 when Gjedde was left at the back and eventually fell, Forsberg coming inside Schlein at the start of the second lap for a 3-3.
Crump won a re-run Heat 10 comfortably enough, but he was the only Ace in the race as Wright had been excluded for going down on the fourth bend - in fact, having lost control he put the bike down to avoid clattering fully into Messing and the referee had only one decision to make.
With five heats to go it was 33-27 to the Bees and Heat 11 was another fine one from the visitors' perspective as Harris chased Gjedde, lined him up and surged through going into the second lap, and Barker made it around the outside of Simmons on the back straight of lap three.
At 37-29, the option was there for the Aces to use a tactical substitute, but this was not taken and Bees were not too disappointed to concede a 4-2 in Heat 12, especially as it could have been worse when the lively Hougaard gated and held Stead at bay for a couple of laps.
Bees still had the match in their grasp at 39-33 - but it all changed in Heat 13. A shared heat would have done perfectly, but the position was complicated when Forsberg cleverly cut back on turn two to go inside Harris and Schlein. Trying to respond around the outside, Schlein went into the fence and was excluded - but worse was to follow.
The re-run saw Harris and Forsberg level for second place up the back straight and into turn three, and as Harris picked up some drive and straightened slightly, he could not avoid clipping Forsberg and sending the Belle Vue man down.
Again, it was not a decision that could be remotely argued against and it left the Aces with the open goal of a 5-0 to cut the gap to a single point.
With Crump an inevitable winner of Heat 15, Bees needed a heat win from 14 at the very least, and a point from Messing would have been even better, but although Stead was able to oblige with another good start, Messing was somewhat unfortunate as he was taken wide by Forsberg on the first bend and that cost him too much ground at the hands of the Belle Vue riders.
That left Bees holding the slenderest of leads going into the last race, and realistically needing to shut out Gjedde to make sure of the win.
However, with Harris missing the start, Schlein found himself in second place and almost alongside Crump going into the third bend. Crump established himself in the lead - it was the nearest any other rider got to him all night - and before the Bees could implement a plan to get Harris into third place, Gjedde took things into his own hands and solved his own problem by going around Schlein on the second lap... and from that, there was no way back.
A massively harsh lesson for the Buildbase Bees, not to mention a major escape for the Aces, but confirmation that a match is never won until it's mathematically certain - Bees were good enough to win this one, but they couldn't quite see it through.
BELLE VUE 46 Jason Crump 3 3 3 3 3 = 15 James Wright 0 1* 1 1 X = 3+1 Charlie Gjedde 2 3 F 2 3 2* = 12+1 Billy Forsberg R 0 3 2* 2 = 7+1 Joe Screen Rider Replacement Nick Simmons 1 1 0 = 2 Patrick Hougaard 3 2 F 0 1 1* = 7+1
BUILDBASE BEES 43 Chris Harris 2 2 3 X 0 = 7 Ben Barker 1* 1 1* 2* 1 = 6+3 Simon Stead 3 2* 2 2 3 = 12+1 Billy Janniro Rider Replacement Rory Schlein 3 2 3 2 X 1 = 11 Stan Burza 0 0 1* 0 = 1+1 Andreas Messing 2 0 3 1* 0 = 6+1