Eagles face Plymouth tonight

Eastbourne IT Forman Eagles mark their return to Arlington this Saturday evening (7.30 pm start time for the league fixture*) when the Plymouth Devils provide the opposition.

In many ways however, the opposition and competition are of a secondary nature as it promises to prove an emotional evening as it will mark the first Arlington outing since the sad passing of Eastbourne Speedway supremo Bob Dugard, writes Kevin Ling.

The night is sure to be laced with an edge of sadness but the modern day Eagles will surely be all out to lift the mood with another home victory, as that would be exactly what Bob would have wanted.

There will undoubtedly be moments of reflection but all in attendance will be looking to pay tribute and celebrate the life of Bob Dugard, the man who has proved the beating heart of Eastbourne Speedway for so many decades.

To follow up last night’s 55-35 success at the home of the Plymouth Devils would prove something of a tonic to help raise spirits as the Eagles look to make an assault on the upper reaches of the National League table.

Currently the Sussex side lie in seventh place in the section but having ridden fewer matches than each of the teams above them.

A strong run in around their home circuit and the potential for further points on the road could yet elevate them into the Play Off picture and from that point it would be game on.

Victory at the St Boniface Arena was the first step down that particular road but although the Eagles were in devastating form, one had to feel sympathy for the Devils and their ongoing injury woes.

In recent weeks they have seen recent acquisitions Ben Hopwood and Tim Webster sidelined and their cause was not helped as former Eagle Ellis Perks crashed out of action in heat one and was ruled out of the remainder of the meeting.

On the plus side for the Devils, both Henry Atkins and former Eastbourne Captain Richard Andrews stepped up to the plate and showed great form for the hosts.

If Andrews is able to demonstrate similar pace around Arlington and with the Devils management having engaged Ben Morley to deputise as a guest for Perks, there side could still give Eastbourne a match.

They will also hope that it proves something of a triumphant homecoming for recent recruit Kelsey Dugard thereby increasing their chances.

With Tom Brennan absent, contesting the European Under-19 Final, Danny Ayres of Mildenhall again steps in as cover. 

It’s never dull when Ayres is around and having contributed a paid 10-point return on their behalf at Plymouth, another similar performance this evening could help propel them towards the League’s top four.

The remainder of the Eagles septet also played a full part in the win, both Georgie Wood and Mark Baseby recording double figure tallies the team as a whole look to be heading into form just at the right time.

The match up with Plymouth this evening also offers Arlington patrons the first sighting of new signing Ethan Spiller.

Spiller looked mighty impressive in winning his first ride then sharing a maximum 5-1 with Wood in his next outing at the home of the Devils. 

An unfortunate exclusion when general opinion suggested a rerun with all four following a first bend bunching incident obviously hampered his scoring but the signs were already clear that Eastbourne have another gilt edged prospect on their hands.

Teams: (in alphabetical order)

Eagles: Danny Ayres (Guest for Tom Brennan), Mark Baseby, Charlie Brooks, Jason Edwards, Charley Powell, Ethan Spiller, Georgie Wood.

Devils: Richard Andrews, Rider Replacement (for Henry Atkins), Kelsey Dugard, Ben Morley (Guest for Ellis Perks), Adam Sheppard (Guest for Macauley Leek), Alex Spooner (Guest for Tim Webster), Ryan Terry-Daley.