COVENTRY experienced the frustration of another 46-44 defeat on the road on Monday – this time at Kent.
And just as in their previous match at Plymouth ten days ago, it was a last-race 5-1 which turned the meeting decisively in the home team’s favour.
The Europress Bees still took a league point, but that was scant consolation as they had never previously trailed throughout the contest, and had been eight points up in the early stages.
And even that point may have come at a cost as skipper Jon Armstrong fell on the second lap of Heat 15 and is now awaiting the extent of an ankle injury.
That incident led to the race being stopped and awarded – prematurely in the Bees’ view – with maximum points to home duo Jack Thomas and Luke Bowen, who were ahead of Connor Mountain at the time of the stoppage.
Mountain had earlier set Bees up for the perfect start when he won Heat One after a duel with Luke Bowen which resulted in the Kings’ No.1 coming to grief, with Luke Harris completing a 5-1.
Bees added 4-2s in Heats Three and Four with races won by Danny Phillips and Armstrong backed up by third places for Luke Ruddick and Jamie Halder.
Mountain split Thomas and Anders Rowe in Heat Five but the home side gradually worked their way back into contention, narrowing the gap to four points in Heat Six prior to a succession of shared races.
A shock 5-1 went the home side’s way in Heat Ten to level the scores with Phillips falling on the fourth bend and then Taylor Hampshire re-passing Ruddick to complete a maximum with Bowen.
Having been pegged back to 30-30, Bees showed plenty of character to rebuild a four-point lead over the next two races, Mountain controlling Heat 11 and Ruddick doing likewise in the next.
They looked set to share the crunch Heat 13 only for Thomas to get the better of Armstrong at the end of the third lap, and then Anders Rowe pulled off a fine move to get the better of Phillips and Halder in the penultimate race.
It meant Bees still led by two but they were vulnerable to Kent’s top duo in the decider, and that was how things turned out as Thomas and Bowen took the advantage before Armstrong came to grief, leaving Bees frustratingly short once more.
Manager Martyn Macdonald said: “Whatever I said about Plymouth, I can just about repeat that for this one.
“We seem to do it every single time, we’re doing alright or even better than alright away from home to go eight points up, but then it feels like the same old story.
“I do think the score made us look better than we actually raced.
“There wasn’t an individual who stuck out as outstanding, so the phrase ‘could have done better’ is the one the school-teacher would use.
“Certainly I think it would have been a truer reflection of how we rode if (Nathan) Stoneman had been riding for them, because rider-replacement didn’t really work for them.
“We’re not sure if Jon has broken anything. He doesn’t think he has, but it will settle itself down or swell up or whatever, and his body will tell him by the morning so we’ll play that one by ear.
“It was nice to see a decent spread of Coventry supporters making the trip, and it’s just disappointing for them after travelling a fair distance to lose by such a small margin every time.”