It was to prove a happy homecoming for the Eastbourne ‘Fineprint’ Eagles as they made a triumphant return to Arlington on Saturday evening.
Their first home fixture for three weeks saw the Sussex side turn on the style and see off the challenge of the ‘in-form’ Redcar Bears by a 50-40 margin.
For Eagles heat leader trio Richard Lawson, Edward Kennett and Lewi Kerr were all in superlative form, each only being denied maximum returns by two late wins from the Bears stand out rider, Erik Riss.
Georgie Wood also grabbed an important race win for the hosts but Kyle Newman in particular drew plaudits with a string of determined rides throughout the course of the meeting.
For the Bears Riss took the honours in both heats 13 and 15 in impressive style, but by that time the Eagles already had the match in the bag.
Until then they had restricted the Bears to just two race winners, the second of these being when British Champion Charles Wright was deployed as a tactical substitute in heat 12.
Wright combined with Michael Palm Toft for a 4-2 which was to prove the visitors only heat advantage of proceedings.
The Eagles Joint Team Manager Will Pottinger commented:
“Our three heat leaders were excellent winning plenty of races between them and they were well backed up by Kyle and Georgie.
Jason had an unfortunate night with bike issues in his first two rides.
We’re happy with a 10 point win and we’ll be looking for more of the same when we race Redcar again in two weeks time with hopefully a few more points coming from reserve then.”
Club director Ian Jordan was swift to lavish praise on his side “That was outstanding speedway in my opinion.
Redcar came to race and delivered some outstanding action on a track several of their top line riders had not seen before. It was especially gratifying after some of the shenanigans at the last fixture three weeks ago, to race a team who want to reward Speedway supporters and show off their skills and they did that all night.
The Track rode superbly despite the hot weather and blazing sun and thanks must go to our track staff Darren, Neil and Roy for their efforts in preparing it.
“Coming on the back of our superb travelling victory at Newcastle, this was just the performance and the result we wanted to set us up for an exciting run in to the end of the season”
“Charles Wright, Erik Riss and Michael Palm Toft all commented on how much they enjoyed their first visits to Arlington. “The Bears are hot Play Off Contenders and we wish them well with that but of course we have to meet them again in the Knockout Cup and this meeting tonight has set the Semi Final up perfectly and it should prove an absolute belter of a meeting in both Legs”.
“We were able to welcome back some of the Mascots who had been so badly affected and upset by the some of the actions in our previous meeting and they all had a fantastic night and a bit thanks to Kate from our Community Team and the Riders for their time in chatting to the youngsters and their parents”.
“We are now looking forward to the Meeting next Saturday against Sheffield with great enthusiasm and with the cut-off date for team changes and alterations due on Wednesday 28th August, to be implemented on Saturday 31st August, we will be working with and assessing the knee ligament injury suffered by Alfie Bowtell very closely before deciding on whether to make any formal Team Changes.
We will give Alfie every opportunity to get the best possible expert opinion, but in the event that he is not able to ride again this season, we have a number of plans under consideration”
“Finally, an apology to any fans whose entry may have been delayed by a 4g outage in the area that caused our card Readers to intermittently fail. This is an issue that occurred once earlier in the season and can be affected by high pressure in the very rural location where Arlington is based.
However, we have learned of some major issues in parts of the area in the last week, affecting O2 and Vodaphone users especially. We will work on back up solutions in the coming week, but as before, would ask that supporters always have a “cash payment” option and we thank everyone for their patience last night and also thank our Turnstile Staff who were once again a credit to the Club”.
“We were already working on an enhanced pre-order ticket solution for next season to augment the excellent Card Reader facilities we have and will hopefully be able to offer even more payment solutions in the near future as we build the infrastructure further”.
“With the Championship Shield Final against Leicester as well as the aforementioned league matches against Sheffield and also Birmingham still to look forward to it promises to be a fantastic end to our first season back in the Championship” Jordan concluded.
Full Meeting Report by Kevin Ling:
Eastbourne ‘Fineprint’ Eagles turned on the style to defeat in-form Redcar Bears at Arlington stadium on Saturday evening.
The Sussex side expected the toughest test against the strong Play Off contenders including British Champion Charles Wright but an incident packed encounter and some of the best racing witnessed at the venue in Season 2019 saw the Eagles blunt their opponents cutting edge as they eventually ran out winners by a 50-40 margin.
Returning to familiar shale following a three week absence and hot on the heels of their first away league success of the campaign at Newcastle last Sunday, the result against the Bears proved just the result they required to springboard them into the remaining, hectic few weeks of the season.
Wright, together with Erik Riss and Michael Palm Toft, form a powerful triple spearhead, one that was sure to pose questions of their Eastbourne equivalent’s but on this occasion it was the Eastbourne heat leaders who effectively held all the cards, Richard Lawson, Lewis Kerr and returning skipper Edward Kennett between them supplying nine of the meetings fifteen race wins.
Each of them were sitting on maximums as the meeting moved towards a conclusion and it took an impressive brace of wins by Riss in heats thirteen and fifteen that put an end to all three.
Indeed it wasn’t all about those three however; Georgie Wood added a victory of his own, superbly taken in heat eight while Kyle Newman also drew plaudits with arguably his most effective performance yet in Eagles livery.
Such was the solidarity posed by the top five it more than made up for the misfortune suffered in the lower order of the side, Jason Edwards suffering a veritable nightmare with machinery problems and although he fought valiantly, Matt Marson, to whom the Eastbourne management were most grateful for standing in to guest at the eleventh hour, remains a virtual stranger to Arlington and struggled to get among the points.
Though it proved a fine end to the meeting for their number one Riss it wasn’t the ideal beginning as his machine gave up the ghost within yards of the start line in heat one. This enabled Kennett to power away for the three-points on his return to Eagle action, Kasper Andersen looking lively to secure second ahead of Wood. (winning time 57.7).
So the first race proffered a 4-2 to the Sussex side and with Bears reserve Tom Woolley a faller in the second, a rerun being ordered with his exclusion, the hosts looked set to build on that as Edwards led the second running from Nathan Greaves. Edwards looked to be coasting to the win but then his bike failed on the final lap to leave him literally coasting, Greaves coming through for a share of the spoils with Marson bringing up the rear (winning time 61.0).
Further incident was set to follow in race three with Eastbourne duo of Newman and Kerr gating on a 5-1. Palm Toft wasn’t about to settle for that however and he gave good chase, rounding the latter entering lap two and then setting his sights on Newman. The Eagle wasn’t to be denied however and he held firm in pole position but with the Dane himself suffering a fall on the third bend of lap three that gifted maximum points to the home side (winning time 58.4), the score now moving to 12-6 in their favour.
Lawson then powered away out of bend two in heat four to put distance between him and Wright (winning time 58.4) but with Greaves getting the better of Marson for the odd point the spoils were again shared and the 6-point margin, now 15-9 remained in place.
The difference would stretch to 8-points (19-11) as Kerr proved an emphatic winner of race five ahead of Riss. Behind them a cracking race for third was unfolding with Newman and Andersen sparring with each other. The visitor looked the more likely to succeed in the latter part but the first bend of the final lap saw him part company with his machine with Newman challenging on his inside. There was no contact with plenty of daylight evident between the pair but the Dane was clearly disappointed with himself as he threw his helmet into the air fence in some despair, the race having been stopped and duly awarded.
Wright made a fast gate in the sixth but Kennett scorched around him on bends three and four of the first lap and continued for an untroubled victory (winning time 58.4). With Wood experiencing little difficulty in containing Woolley a third 4-2 went the way of the hosts and with that the score line moved to 23-13.
Palm Toft and Jordan Stewart gated well in heat seven but Lawson shot between them in superb style heading out of the second bend and from that point there would be no catching the flying Eagle who came home in a time of 58.6
Edwards’s troubles continued in race eight as his bike failed to leave the starting grid. Wood would not be found wanting however and he produced the sort of form of which the Arlington patrons know he is capable as he blazed away from both Andersen and Greaves to secure the win (winning time 59.0). With that the difference remained at 10-points (29-19) but with the match now past the half way point time was running out for the visitors if they were yet to make their mark.
Kerr continued unabated in the ninth and he duly became the third Eagle to lower Wright’s colours and he did so in a time of 58.7. Newman knew far too much for Woolley and his third place secured the 4-2 that would extend the advantage further to 12-points, the scores now moving to 33-21.
Though that was the score that extended in favour of Newcastle the previous Sunday before the Eagles staged their thrilling fightback on Tyneside, any further parallels with that were swiftly swept aside as Kennett made it three out of three in the tenth and won by a distance (winning time 58.7). Behind him it was all action however as Wood continued to pressure both Stewart and Palm Toft. Unfortunately for him it wasn’t destined to be as the Bears duo came home in the minor points scoring positions but it certainly hadn’t been for the want of trying.
Lawson was an all the way winner from Riss in heat eleven (winning time 59.5) but hard though he fought Edwards just couldn’t get the better of Andersen for third. The Eastbourne reserve came under his opponent on the second bend of lap one but the Dane swept back past with a similar move at the same point two laps later.
This saw the scores stand at 39-27 with just four races remaining and the Bears chose that moment to introduce Wright as a tactical substitute to ride alongside Palm Toft. Once again Newman performed with distinction but although he was unable to get the better of the British Champion he did at least peg Palm Toft in last place, however the 4-2 went the way of the visitors and that eroded the home lead slightly though it did still stand at double figures 41-31 (winning time 58.9).
With Kennett and Lawson as yet unheaded and set to feature together in heat thirteen hopes were prevalent amongst the home support that they would again punish their opponents in the closing stages. It was not to be and fair play to Riss who had really found his feet by this point.
The German was fastest from the start and clearly he would have hoped his partner Wright would join him. Wright was the latest to suffer a bout of gremlins however and he pulled up on the second turn leaving Kennett and Lawson to give chase. Neither quite had the legs however and the Eastbourne Captain’s race ended when his bike also failed him on the final lap. Riss duly took the chequered flag in a time of 59.2 with Lawson following him home while Kennett coasted around to secure the 3-3.
Eastbourne only now had to provide a finisher in either of the final two races in order to set the win in stone but Kerr made double sure of this by coming home in some style ahead of Stewart in the penultimate race (winning time 58.8). With Greaves having the final word in his personal duel with Edwards this realised the night’s eighth shared race, one that saw the Eagles over the line holding a 47-37 advantage.
The final heat made it nine 3-3’s in total with Riss again the victor (winning time 59.2). The Eagles management nominated Kerr to ride alongside Lawson and the German was to deny him his maximum just as he had both Lawson and Kennett’s two races earlier.
Few would have minded however as it brought down the curtain on what had proved a superb speedway meeting and a great advert for the sport.
Richard Lawson 13, Lewis Kerr 12+2, Edward Kennett 10+1, Kyle Newman 7, Georgie Wood 5, Jason Edwards 2, Matt Marson 1+1.
Erik Riss 10, Charles Wright 9, Nathan Greaves 6+3, Jordan Stewart 5+2, Kasper Andersen 5+1, Michael Palm Toft 5, Tom Woolley 0
Image Credits: Mike Hinves