MATCH REPORT: Coventry lose out in classic match

Kyle Roberts made a brilliant competitive return to the Coventry Cycle Speedway team last Sunday afternoon in top scoring as he inspired his weakened side to within one race of a dynamic shock victory against powerful East Park Wolves.

Coventry were without four key riders and fielded some youthful and inexperienced riders against the powerful Wolverhampton side. In a superbly entertaining affair, Coventry slipped to an agonizing last gasp 91-86 defeat.

Roberts returned in style. Jet propelled from the starting gate, the supremely talented 17-year-old raced to 19 points, losing just once.

Inspired by Roberts, and supported by an outstanding performance by a revitalized Matthew Hambidge, Coventry drew heat 1 and held on in the early heats against a determined Wolves onslaught.

Former World Champion Ray Oliver (left) made his return to the Coventry team. Photos by Ray Andrews.

Former World Champion Ray Oliver (left) made his return to the Coventry team. Photos by Ray Andrews.

Roberts, and skipper Myke Grimes, piled up the race wins as the first half progressed. They were well supported by ex-world champion Ray Oliver – making his first Coventry team appearance for 12 years.

Oliver, his razor sharp starting to the fore, teamed up with Grimes for several heat wins in an astonishing comeback performance as Coventry reached half time just two points adrift.

More spectacular racing followed, with Coventry`s younger riders more than competitive against the experienced visitors. Hambidge, displaying a previously unseen tactical awareness, then won his first ever senior team race in Coventry colours as the two teams fought out a classic match.

Hambidge followed up his maiden victory with an even more impressive race in heat 15. With partner Dan Drewett relegated to the back, Hambidge skillfully team rode an East Park opponent wide – with a gleeful Drewett taking full advantage on the last bend.

The match was decided in the crucial heat 17 penultimate race. Drewett, showing a more focused and physical approach, needed to make the start. With tension at fever pitch, the talented 18-year-old jumped the start and was excluded – and with it Coventry`s victory hopes.

In the final analysis, Coventry`s youthful tail was just too much to carry but once again they showed terrific fight, and potential for the future, in one of their best team performances of recent seasons.

Coventry point scorers: Kyle Roberts 19, Myke Grimes 16, Matthew Hambidge 15, Ray Oliver 13, Dan Drewett 10, Matt Lawrence 6, Ben Wells 4 and Ollie Morris 3.