Eastbourne Speedway’s troubled week got worse on Saturday (June 12) night – much worse.
First, Drew Kemp pulled out of the match against Edinburgh at Arlington Stadium at lunchtime because he had been “pinged’ by Covid-19 track and trace and has to isolate for ten days.
Eastbourne moved swiftly to draft in Alfie Bowtell, a former Eagle, as a guest replacement for Kemp.
Throughout the match, the HG Aerospace Eagles struggled to keep on terms with their opponents but managed to take it to a last-heat decider, as they had done in their opening match of the season against Poole.
On that occasion, the Eagles pulled off victory and it looked as if a repeat was on the cards as the fans cheered Richard Lawson and Kyle Newman to a seeming 5-1 which would have seen the Eagles home and dry by two points.
But it was not to be.
While Lawson was in clear air at the front, Newman was second and doing more than enough to hold off the opponents.
However, disaster struck as the riders went into the third lap and Newman’s bike came to a halt, gifting the visitors a 3-3 to clinch the match by two points (44-46).
It left the rider distraught, the home fans stunned and Eastbourne team manager Trevor Geer disappointed.
He said: “I was so disappointed for the team but more so for Kyle.
“He put his heart and soul into that race and he was so up for it.
“He had been riding well all night and he had a brilliant line in that race. He was cruelly robbed there.
“I don’t think the Edinburgh boys would have been able to do anything about him.”
Geer said the Eagles were on the back foot throughout the meeting because the visitors were making the better starts.
“We were having to come from behind for the whole meeting. We should have pulled it off in that last heat as we did with Poole but it was not to be.
“It is early days in the league and now we need some points on the road. We can do it, we are good enough.”
EASTBOURNE 44: Richard Lawson 16, Kyle Newman 10+2, Tom Brennan 8, Alfie Bowtell 5+2, Edward Kennett 3+1, Jason Edwards 2+1, Lewis Kerr r/r.
EDINBURGH 46: Sam Masters 13, Josh Pickering 12+1, Richie Worrall 7, Kye Thomson 5+2, Nathan Greaves 5+1, Joe Lawlor 4, William Lawson 0.
Here’s how Kevin Ling saw the match unfold.
Eastbourne HG AeroSpace Eagles were left reeling on Saturday night as they suffered a home defeat for the first time in Season 2021 to the wholly impressive Edinburgh Monarchs.
The Scottish side survived a final heat scare to triumph by a 46-44 margin having led throughout the evening and in so-doing they chalked up their first ever Arlington victory.
The Sussex side had trailed by 2-points heading into heat 15 and considering that the Monarchs lead duo Sam Masters and Josh Pickering had suffered a single defeat each it was the visitors who had every reason to feel confident.
In opposition was Richard Lawson, the man responsible for lowering both Masters and Pickering’s colours. Alongside Lawson was Kyle Newman who had also put in a shift having amassed a paid 12-point return from his five outings.
Sussex hearts were lifted however as in spite of Masters making the start, he lifted on the second turn allowing Lawson and Newman to go one either side of him and into the lead heading down the back straight.
The mood was suddenly jubilant as it appeared that another last minute reprieve as witnessed against Poole a few weeks ago was on the cards.
Lawson was away and gone but for Newman it was all about to go wrong as his machine slowed and ultimately failed on the first and second bends of lap three allowing the grateful Monarchs pair to ride past and claim the match winning share of the spoils.
Indeed it had proved a troubled build up to the clash for Eastbourne who already short-handed and using Rider Replacement for injured Captain Lewi Kerr found themselves without the talents of Drew Kemp who had been identified by the track and trace system as someone needing to isolate for a period of ten days.
The Monarchs clearly scented the potentially weakness of their hosts and they demonstrated some fine gating skills to provide the winners of the first six races and no few than three 4-2s to open up an early six-point advantage.
Masters looked to be in superb form from the word go and he led into the first bend and continued to inflict a telling defeat on opposite number one Edward Kennett.
Behind them Tom Brennan was struggling to make up for a poor start as he gave chase to Nathan Greaves.
Brennan’s challenge would end at the first bend of lap two as he spun around and fell leaving the visitors to collect the 4-2 (heat one winning time 56.7).
Joe Lawlor seemed to surprise himself in winning heat two but nonetheless he was a deserving winner as he came home well ahead of Alfie Bowtell (deputising in place of Kemp) and Jason Edwards. William Lawson suffered a fall of his own and almost collected the latter Eagle on the third bend the first time around.
He remounted and gave chase but pulled up in the latter stages, a share of the spoils by then all but confirmed (heat two winning time 59.8).
Pickering proved the first man home in the next following a storming gate that saw him lead both Brennan, taking the Rider Replacement outing and Newman for the full four laps.
This realised a second successive 3-3 and a progressive scoreline of 10-8 in favour of the visitors (heat three winning time 57.3).
It was Richie Worrall who was too hot to handle in race four. This time it was Richard Lawson who made the better start but the Edinburgh rider swept past out of bend two and he continued for the victory with Bowtell following in third for the 3-3, the third in succession that protected the Edinburgh lead, one that now stood at 13-11 (heat four winning time 58.9).
The margin was soon to increase however as the Monarchs secured back to back 4-2s in each of the next two races.
Masters was an all the way winner of heat five but it could have been even worse for the Sussex side as Newman needed to produce a fine effort to get the better of Greaves around the outside entering bend three of lap one (heat five winning time 57.7).
The difference extended to six-points 21-15 as Worrall executed a fine pass of Kennett in the sixth, the Eastbourne rider coming to grief though no contact had been made.
He was soon up but out of the race, this leaving Brennan to lead home Lawlor for second place but this couldn’t prevent the visitors moving further ahead (heat six winning time 58.0).
Brennan was introduced as a tactical substitute in the next but although Lawson played his part becoming the first Eagle to take the chequered flag ahead of Pickering, it was Brennan who was left wanting as in spite of a strenuous effort he failed to get on terms with Kye Thomson who secured the 3-3 and safeguarded the Monarchs advantage that now stood at 24-18 (heat seven winning time 57.9).
The Eagles bared their teeth in heat eight clawing back two of the six points but this was something of a last ditch effort as Brennan just caught Greaves on the line to snatch the win while Edwards clung onto for third place and the 4-2 resisting the late challenge of William Lawson (heat eight winning time 59.2).
Even better was to follow as Lawson took the rider replacement outing and combined with Newman for a thrilling 5-1 that saw both come from the back to head home the previously unbeaten Worrall. This triumph finally pulled Eastbourne level at 27-27 for the first time and suddenly Arlington was jumping (heat nine winning time 57.6).
Just four laps on however and the mood was immediately subdued once more. Kennett slid off and out of the race on the first bend of lap two leaving Brennan to give fruitless chased to the impressive Pickering and Kye Thomson who had gleefully joined the party (heat ten winning time 57.8).
With that the Sussex outfit trailed by 4-points (32-28) once more. Lawson looked a cut above in the first race after the interval (one that had witnessed a behind closed doors meeting for the Eastbourne contingent) as he handed out a first defeat of the evening to Masters.
Edwards failed to get the better of Greaves however and the resultant 3-3 saw the four-point margin (now 35-31) remain in place (heat 11 winning time 57.4).
The sands of time were starting to run short for the hosts. A fine pass of the fast starting Thomson by Newman on the second bend of lap two drew the cheers of the home crowd in heat 12 and with Bowtell riding home unchallenged after Lawlor suffered a fall, with that the deficit had been halved, the Monarchs lead now standing at 37-35 (heat 12 winning time 58.0).
The Eagles might have looked to race 13 to claw their way back into the contest but it was all about Masters once again as he led from tapes to flag. Lawson and Kennett did at least combine for a share of the spoils at the expense of Worrall but the visitors still held the whip hand, their lead still standing at 2-points (40-38) with just two heats remaining (heat thirteen winning time 57.2).
Newman produced another cracking effort in the penultimate race of the night but it wasn’t quite enough to see off Pickering who bagged his third win in four starts. Bowtell secured what might have proved a crucial third place at the expense of William Lawson but the Eagles knew they still had it all to do, trailing as they did 43-41 with just four laps of the meeting left to run (heat 14 winning time 58.2).
Sadly for the Eagles it was not to be though both Lawson and Newman gave it their all sweeping past Masters down the back straight and leaving Pickering trailing. The mood was jubilant but then it spluttered and muted along with Newman’s motor on the second bend of lap three, the unfortunate Eagle’s misfortune effectively handing a first ever Arlington success to the Monarchs by a closing margin of 46-44 (heat 15 winning time 58.0).
Image Credit: Mike Hinves