MATCH REPORT: A day to forget for Coventry

Coventry Sabres suffered a heavy away defeat at the hands of Leicester Monarchs in their opening Midland League encounter at Slater Street.

The home side rested Craig Marchant and ex-Coventry man Dave Frith, while Norman Venson was ill, yet they still over powered their opposition. Coventry captain, Myke Grimes was the only rider able to match Leicester’s fire power and took their only race wins.

With Grimes and Wassall in the first heat, it started all square, with the Coventry youngster unlucky to fall while attempting an inside pass on Damian Pelaczyk.

From then on it was brutal from Leicester. Five maximum heat advantages and a 6-4 in the remaining 8 heats of the first half gave Leicester a huge 20 point cushion at the break.

Grimes and Ben Wells delivered a 6-4 in an entertaining race against Luke Whitehead and Mike Baldock in heat 5, where the luckless Whitehead slipped off in front on the final lap whilst under high pressure from Grimes.

Luke Whitehead delivered a good performance and was unlucky to slip off in heat 5. Photo by Mark Phillips.

The Leicester circuit is currently down to its bare bones and saw many wash outs throughout the day, including Grimes in heat 8, whilst pulling a tight line on Dave Hemsley, to add to the away side’s misery.

After the break, the pasting continued. Leicester conceded just one last place as their new winter signing from Coventry, Mason Phillips, took his turn to wash out on the thin dusty circuit. Six more 7-3s and a 6-4 were smashed in by Leicester, while Grimes answered back with another win against Burns and Whitehead.

To conclude a dreadful afternoon for Coventry, in heat 18 skipper Grimes lost his cool after a second robust trip to the outer perimeter by Dave Hemsley, he let the referee know his thoughts on the lack of action taken on both accounts by the official, unfortunately while his bike “ghosted” across the track in the path of the other riders.

An admittedly poor show from the frustrated Coventry man, who duly apologised to all involved after the match.

Leicester delivered a masterclass in team riding, but truth be told, the majority of the races were over by the first bend. Matt Hartshorn was the pick of the bunch as he delivered a maximum and looks to have stepped up a gear this season, along with partner Hemsley.

Matt Hartshorn (leading) and Dave Hemsley provided three maximum heat advantages for Leicester. Photo by Mark Phillips.

The less said about Coventry the better. Jimmy Wassall typically battled hard and Dan Drewett managed to split the Leicester pairings on two occasions, but overall the Sabres lacked basic desire and belief to win races or compete, despite being capable. Another long ML1 season awaits unless they address some core issues and step it up on race day.

Damian Pelaczyk 10+1, Mike Baldock 18, Dave Hemsley 16+4, Matt Hartshorn 18+2, Mark Whitehead 12+3, Kev Burns 17+2, Mason Phillips 12+1, Luke Whitehead 10

Jimmy Wassall 8, Myke Grimes 13, Josh Marsh 5+1, Sam Hardie 8, Dan Drewett 10, Kyle Barlow 5, Matt Hambidge 8, Ben Wells 6

There was some positivity for Coventry in the remaining fixtures, with the away side taking both ML2 and ML3 wins in closely fought matches.

The junior Midland League 3 team delivered some excellent team riding, especially considering half of the team made their debuts in the side. The young Sabres took the win by 10 points in the end, 35-45.

Coventry had just enough top end power in the Midland League two match, but some entertaining races for both teams delivered a decent spectacle, with the final score 69-72.

For some consolation, the Coventry club are reaping the rewards of their successful coaching and recruitment programme at youth level, which was underlined by these two excellent victories away from home, but are also sitting top of the club leaderboard on 10 points after two rounds in the Midlands British Youth and Junior League.