The Eastbourne Fineprint Eagles face the Leicester Lions today (May 4) and tomorrow (May 5).
Tonight’s match is at Beaumont Park and on Sunday it is all back to Arlington Stadium for the 3.30pm start.
Kevin Ling runs the rule over the clashes.
And tonight, Kevin will be trackside at Leicester to bring you our detailed unbiased heat-by-heat report as the meeting unfolds.
Eastbourne ‘Fineprint’ Eagles embark on their quest for Championship league silverware in the toughest fashion with home and away match up against the section’s current ‘form side’ this weekend.
With that comes the added bonus of the presence of another Speedway Great in seven-times British Champion and former Eagle, Scott Nicholls, who makes his first appearance at Arlington stadium in more than four years heading up the offensive for the Leicester Lions.
The Sussex battlers travel to the Paul Chapman & Sons Arena, home of the east Midlands outfit on Saturday evening (7.30 pm start time) before returning to more familiar shale on Sunday afternoon (3.30 pm start time) where the teams will go head-to-head once again.
Having made a wholly encouraging start to their campaign, progressing through to the Championship Shield semi-finals courtesy of a mid-week 53-37 success at Birmingham the mood in the Eastbourne camp could safely be described as buoyant.
In addition, they arguably also hold the whip hand and a 25-point home leg advantage in their Knockout Cup dealings with the Brummies
However, that is also a tag that can be allied to the Lions with them having also enjoyed a blistering start to their season.
Just like the Eagles, the Lions have already qualified for the Championship Shield latter stages, topping the Northern Group that also included Scunthorpe, Sheffield and Redcar.
This has come off the back of an impressive run of form that has seen them triumph in no fewer than six of their seven engagements against Championship opposition.
Their one defeat proved a 42-48 reverse away to Scunthorpe, a night that saw Nicholls beset by engine problems that resulted in his totalling an uncharacteristically low 3-point return.
Since then they have enjoyed a sequence of five straight successes, two of these coming away from home at Sheffield and Redcar.
Should the Eagles jettison the Brummies from the Knockout Cup, the second leg set for Perry Barr on May 15th they would then be destined to meet the Lions at the quarter final stage.
With both clubs still involved in the Shield competition – awaiting news of the winners of the Borders Section and the best second place of the three Groups – they could well meet again, consequently there will be great interest taken in who should fare best over the two legs.
Equally, both clubs will be looking to steal the march over the other as they get their respective league campaigns underway.
Indeed, Leicester have already started down that road and can claim to top the table, albeit with only two matches having been ridden, the Lions having triumphed over the Newcastle Diamonds by a 53-37 margin to hit pole position.
The Eagles name an unchanged side with which to travel to the Midlands. Leicester will track largely their regular team, this including Richie Worrall and Josh Bates as heat leaders alongside Nicholls. The Lions reserve berth contains former Kent King Jack Thomas and particular interest will no doubt surround the return of former Eagle Ellis Perks.
Connor Mountain, another top performer against Eastbourne in their National League days, resides in the number two position. The only diversion from their usual line up is the absence of Australian exponent Ryan Douglas.
Douglas sustained a shoulder injury against Sheffield and then aggravated it against Newcastle last week.
His place is taken by guest Kyle Howarth (Sheffield) in their home leg, the Lions utilising the Rider Replacement facility at Arlington.
Updated Teams: (Leicester bring in Josh Pickering as a guest for Josh Bates who was injured in last nights meeting)
Eagles: Alfie Bowtell, Tom Brennan, Edward Kennett, Lewis Kerr, Richard Lawson, Ben Morley, Georgie Wood.
Lions: Scott Nicholls, Connor Mountain, Josh Pickering, Ryan Douglas R/R, Richie Worrall, Jack Thomas, Ellis Perks. .
Eastbourne joint team manager and co-promoter Trevor Geer said: “This really is a tough one for our first league match of the year.
“Leicester have totally dominated the northern group of the Shield and that shows what sort of team we will be up against.
“However, our spirits are high. We were doing well at Somerset, until the last three heats, and it was a stunning win at Birmingham on Wednesday.
“This is a tough league and the Eagles are up for the fight.”
Image credits: Mike Hinves and Tiffani Graveling Photography