CRADLEY suffered last gasp heartache as they slipped to a 46-43 defeat against Coventry in a tense National League encounter at Brandon.

Despite a determined effort, the Heathens were condemned to their first defeat of the season against a strong Storm side - although they did leave with a well-deserved point.

Having romped to three consecutive victories in their opening three meetings of 2014, Cradley looked set to extend their winning run as they raced into an eight point lead early on.

Yet a late surge from the home side saw them slip to a disappointing defeat as they came out second best in a nervy last heat decider.

Team manager Will Pottinger said: "Of course it's extremely disappointing to lose after being eight points up at one stage. A few things went against us machinery wise and with decisions; it was just one of those nights really.

"At least we came away with a point which is better than nothing and the minimum requirement from away meetings.

"We can't get too disappointed with one loss - we've just got to regroup now, put it behind us and make sure we are back on top form next Tuesday."

Skipper Paul Starke led from the front with a classy display, whilst Steve Worrall also put in a solid display despite fading as the meeting wore on.

Reserve Matt Williamson and Danny Phillips also put in strong showings to bolster the lower order - yet Max Clegg, Tom Perry and Nathan Greaves all endured tough meetings as the Heathens saw a number of falls and bike problems blight their evening.

The side will return to the track on Tuesday aiming to get back to winning ways as they welcome Buxton to Monmore Green for the opening home league meeting of the season.

Fans have the chance to meet their heroes before the meeting.

The club is having team posters printed to give away to every supporter and they can get them signed at a rider autograph session between 6.3pm and 7pm.

Co-boss Nigel Pearson said: "We appreciate the support we get week in and week out and this is just another way of the club giving something back to supporters. The poster will feature the full team and there will be team members available on entry to the stadium before they go for the track walk.

"We are also looking at putting other added attractions on at meetings later in the season, at no extra cost to the fans, because we want to show them how much we appreciate their backing and never take it for granted.

"Nobody will ever forget what we achieved here last season, it was wonderful, but I would say the current team is every bit as popular with our fans.

"We have some tough tests ahead this season, but I also expect this side to improve as we progress through the weeks and months."

Buxton have pulled off the surprise signing of Tony Atkin to help them out at the start of the season - and he will supplement their talented crop of young riders.

"We have a lot of respect for Buxton and the way they work on bringing through the youngsters," said Pearson. "They will be most welcome next Tuesday when we will be looking for another home win."