Tie of the round
Coventry have been out of sorts this year but Kelvin Tatum says they can draw with Lakeside on Monday.
Last Updated: 17/08/12 11:44am
I am mightily surprised to see Coventry languishing in the lower reaches of the Elite League as before the campaign started I had them down as contenders for the top four.
The Bees recalled Scott Nicholls and Chris Harris over the winter and, with Eddie Kennett and Kenni Larsen also in tow, looked to have a strong squad, but they haven't got going.
Harris and Nicholls have been injured of late but that is only part of the problem and the main reason for their struggles has been a lack of form and focus throughout the side, which is a bit strange considering the quality of rider they possess.
Businessman Mick Horton has taken over the club, while Coventry also have a new team manager with Blayne Scroggins replacing Colin Pratt, so perhaps the Bees are struggling to adapt to the new regime, too.
Larsen stood in as captain for the injured Harris during the Bees' defeat to Birmingham on Thursday and he was his side's top point scorer. He is an aggressive competitor and Coventry are going to need all his determination for the remainder of the season.
Kennett also fared pretty well in that meet and after a suspension last season following an incident with his silencer, will be determined to make up for lost time.
He has been pretty inconsistent this year, though, which must really frustrate him. He got to the British Final and had a chance to win it, but is just not producing the goods night-in, night-out.
Coventry were scratching around for riders ahead of their clash with the Brummies and Scroggins was adamant that he was not going to pay over the odds for new recruits.
His tune may have changed if the Bees were in play-off contention but as they aren't I think Scroggins' view was the correct one.
Lakeside, meanwhile, are sitting third in the Elite League and I think they are capable of staying there. The meetings are beginning to run out but they will be under threat from the likes of Peterborough and Eastbourne and a play-off spot is not certain.
The Hammers are well led by Australian Davey Watt; Poole's Chris Holder and Darcy Ward are probably the best riders in the Elite League but Watt is definitely a standout performer.
He is an experienced man who has enjoyed plenty of glory before in his career, while the same can be said of Peter Karlsson, who is still going strong at the age of 42 and is a great character to have in your side.
Robert Mears has also done very well this term down in reserve; he is an enthusiastic lad, has pulled his weight and has come in with a lot of vital points.
No-one would begrudge Lakeside success this season following the tragic death of Hammers rider Lee Richardson earlier in the year.
The entire speedway community was rocked by his passing and it would be justice in some respects if Lakeside won the division.
The racetrack at Coventry should be good on Monday night and against a vulnerable Coventry side the play-off chasing Hammers should be looking for at least a draw.
I think they'll get one.