Eastbourne beat Redcar 48-42 in tonight’s (September 7) Championship KO Cup semi-final, second leg, but the North East Club won the tie on aggregate by 92-88.
The final overall score rather hides the fact that the Redcar Bears generally controlled affairs at Arlington Stadium and were always in the driving seat after gaining a 5-1 victory in heat one.
That put their overall lead to 14 points and from then on the Fineprint Eagles were very much playing catch-up.
It was only over the closing stages that Eastbourne managed to get their noses in front on the night but by then the heats were running out and the maximum heat advantages needed would not come.
Eastbourne finished the night with a flourish, taking a final heat 5-1, but by then Redcar were in the final, where they will face Newcastle.
Joint Eastbourne team manager Will Pottinger said: “Unfortunately, getting a 5-1 against us in heat one left us with a bit of a mountain to climb.
“It was just a bit too high. It was unfortunate because we thought we could do it.
“We just fell short, which is frustrating but it is done now and we will have to make sure we put it right next week.”
Next Saturday and Sunday the Eagles face Leicester in the Championship Shield Final.
Redcar made a series of fast starts with Pottinger commenting: “We just didn’t have our gating gloves on as a team. We struggled a bit out of the starts and hopefully lesson learned and we will try and put that right next week.
“Against such a good team as Redcar, you cannot give them too many opportunities.”
Pottinger said the club’s management would analyse what happened to “see if there is anything we can do to get a better performance”.
“We are going to need a bigger lead than six points to take to Leicester; ideally double figures,” he said.
Next Saturday, Edward Kennett is riding in an FIM long track event and Rory Schlein, as long as he is fit, has been booked as a guest in his place. Nathan Stoneman will be used as a guest at reserve in place of the injured Alfie Bowtell in both legs.
CHAMPIONSHIP KO CUP S/F 2nd leg
EASTBOURNE 48: Richard Lawson 14, Lewis Kerr 12+1, Kyle Newman 10, Jason Edwards 5+2, Edward Kennett 5, Danny Phillips 2, Georgie Wood r/r.
REDCAR 42: Adam Ellis 10, Erik Riss 9+1, Kasper Andersen 8+1, Nathan Greaves 8+1, Jordan Stewart 7, Michael Palm Toft 0, Tom Woolley 0.
Redcar win 92-88 on aggregate.
Here is our resident expert and Eagles TV summariser, Kevin Ling’s view of last night’s action.
Eastbourne ‘Fineprint’ Eagles hopes of making it through to a Knockout Cup Final date with the Newcastle Diamonds ended in disappointment at Arlington stadium on Saturday evening.
The Redcar Bear’s came, they saw and did just what they had to do to defend the 10-point advantage that they had accrued in their home leg the previous evening . . . and fair play to them.
The result on the night witnessed a 48-42 victory for the Sussex side but they were to fall just short in the final reckoning, the Bears progressing through to a dream North Eastern Final match up against the Newcastle Diamonds courtesy of a 92-88 aggregate advantage.
In truth, the visitors inflicted a hammer blow as early as heat one as maximum points over home skipper Edward Kennett immediately increased the margin to 14-points and thereafter the hosts, again utilising the Rider Replacement facility for Georgie Wood, struggled to find the chinks in the visitors armour that would not only enable them to get back on terms on the night but to then chip away at the first leg deficit.
For the Eagles, Richard Lawson and Lewi Kerr both piled up the points and once again Kyle Newman produced a tenacious performance, the wins in his final two rides being among the best that the Sussex fans have yet seen from him.
Kennett appeared out of sorts and certainly below his best but much of this can be attributed to his riding through the pain barrier following the re-occurrence of an arm injury that ruled him out of the majority of last season. Arguably this could have made all the difference to their challenge.
Jason Edwards and guest reserve Danny Phillips both gave of their best and were never off the pace but having the additional burden of covering Wood’s rides it was always going to be a big ask from them.
For the Bears, recently crowned Championship League Riders Champion Erik Riss and guest (replacing the injured British Champion Charles Wright – ruled out for a statutory period suffering concussion) Adam Ellis proved a strong spearhead but the key to their overall victory could effectively be credited to the respective performances of both Kasper Andersen – a brace of crucial wins for the Dane as well as sharing in that first heat 5-1 with Ellis – and Nathan Greaves who produced a critical 8-points (paid 9) for the Bears from the reserve berth.
Redcar Captain Michael Palm Toft struggled uncharacteristically in the early part, running two lasts before being withdrawn through injury.
Initially the use of injury rider replacement was denied by match referee Simon Humphrey Kennett as the understanding was that the condition hadn’t been sustained during the meeting however it was subsequently revealed that he had picked up a back injury during the course of his two outings.
This facility then enabling them to plug the gap with the in-form Andersen and Jordan Stewart in Palm Toft’s final two rides thus easing the visitor’s plight.
The match was very much nip and tuck in the early part with the two teams largely trading 4-2s.
Maximum points to the Bears in the opening race had certainly done the damage from an Eastbourne perspective however and with the hosts playing catch up for the first two thirds of the meeting, by the time they did get ahead thanks to a 4-2 in heat 12, the visitors had all but done their job and semi-final was almost won.
With the sizeable attendance set to get behind the Eagles, they were stunned almost into silence as the tapes rose for heat one and Ellis and Andersen sped away from Kennett.
Though the Eagles skipper at least had the pair in his sights the pair each rode a fine race to come home in front thus extending their ten-point lead to fourteen right from the off (winning time 58.0).
When Greaves and Tom Woolley gated ahead in the second race the home fans feared that the Bears might add further to their advantage.
Phillips and Edwards battled gamely however and each passed Woolley to ensure a share of the spoils but there would be no catching Greaves who repeated his reserve race win of a fortnight previously in a time of 59.8.
Kerr blasted from the start in the third to lead from Stewart. With Newman quickly getting the better of Palm Toft entering the second hopes were again rekindled as the Eagle set off in pursuit of Stewart but the race remained a 4-2 (winning time 57.7), the Bears maintaining their lead which now stood at 8-10 in their favour, the aggregate margin moving to 48-60.
The visitors responded in kind in heat four, however, as Riss posted a telling victory at the expense of Lawson (winning time 58.6).
With Greaves also getting the better of Phillips for the odd point, the resultant 4-2 ensured that the 4-point lead (now 10-14) was back with the Bears.
The rapid exchange of 4-2s continued in the next with Eastbourne hitting back. The normally fast starting Ellis was left standing seeing Kerr and Newman get away but hopes for the 5-1 evaporated as Ellis rounded the latter but Newman did at least keep the hard chasing Andersen at bay with the score line again narrowing to 14-16 (winning time 57.4).
Riss secured his second win with a gate to flag effort in the sixth (winning time 58.5), this time at the expense of Kennett and Edwards. This saw the scores move to 17-19 still in Redcar’s favour and with the tallies over the two legs now standing at 57-69, the Eagles would have known only too well that their window of opportunity was rapidly closing.
Lawson defeated Stewart in heat seven and Edwards produced a fine effort coming from the back to deny Palm Toft for the 4-2 (winning time 58.7), with that parity on the night was restored with the sides on 21-points apiece but of course the Bears still held the whip hand, the score over the two legs now reading 61-71.
The visitors seized back the second leg advantage in the very next race however, Andersen outpacing Newman with Greaves, again a thorn in Eagles side heading home Edwards (winning time 58.7) this seeing them lead 23-25 with just seven of the 30 races still to run.
The sequence of 4-2s continued to switch between the two teams and with most people anticipated the showdown between Kerr and Riss, both as yet unheaded, in the ninth it was Newman who shot from the start to lead and that was just where he stayed, his victory over the German, with his team mate following in third was no less a reward than his efforts had deserved (winning time 58.7).
The scores were again levelled at 27-27 but the Bears still didn’t let up the pressure, Andersen (replacing the injured Palm Toft) repeating his earlier defeat of Kennett in heat ten (winning time 58.4) and with Stewart similarly accounting for Phillips the visitors 4-2 once more saw the pendulum swing back in their favour, 29-31 now the scoreline (69-81 on aggregate) now with just five races remaining.
Andersen proved the victim of a second bend coming together with team mate Ellis in the eleventh, a fall and disqualification that saw him ruled out of the second running. Lawson duly had the beating of Ellis in the restart (winning time 58.0); Edwards riding home unchallenged in third and with that it was level pegging (33-33) once again.
Eastbourne finally moved ahead for the first time on the night on conclusion of heat 12, one that witnessed another superb victory for Newman (winning time 58.5). Greaves kept him under pressure throughout but the Eagle had the beating of the potent reserve.
Edwards also drew plaudits as he got the better of Stewart for the third place point to snatch the evenings ninth 4-2 (of the twelve races so far run) and at last the Eagles were in front, 37-35 but the overall difference still stood at 8-points (77-85) and with just three races remaining the Bears just about had one foot in the final.
Eastbourne badly needed some 5-1s if they were to salvage the situation but although Lawson scorched around the outside to leave both Ellis and Riss standing in race 13 (winning 57.7), Kennett concluded a disappointing night for him by bringing up the rear, the scores now 40-38 with two heats left.
Maximum points to Eastbourne in each of the final two races could still have taken the match to Golden Heats but although Kerr continued a masterful display with his third victory of the night in the penultimate race ahead of Stewart and Greaves (winning time 58.5), for Edwards the task was just too great as he trailed the field.
With that the Bears still led over the two legs 83-91 and were through to the Final they had dreamed of against Newcastle so deserved congratulations to them.
Pride was still at stake nonetheless and Lawson and Kerr ran down the clock with a final heat 5-1 at the expense of Ellis and Riss (winning time 59.0).
The result might possibly have been different has the tie depended on it but the Bears were dealt a blow as Riss was put back fifteen metres for a second starting infringement.
The home fans still richly applauded the closing maximum and the consolation of the home 48-42 victory.
However, it was the Redcar Bears and their impressive following of vociferous and enthusiastic supporters who were left celebrating all the harder, their 92-88 aggregate triumph having been richly deserved.
Eagles: Richard Lawson 14(5), Lewis Kerr 12+1(5), Kyle Newman 10(5), Jason Edwards 5+2(7), Edward Kennett 5(4), Danny Phillips (Guest for Alfie Bowtell) 2(4), Rider Replacement for Georgie Wood. – 48 (Aggregate 88)
Bears: Adam Ellis (Guest for Charles Wright) 10(5), Erik Riss 9+1(5), Kasper Andersen 8+1(5), Nathan Greaves 8+1(5), Jordan Stewart 7(5), Michael Palm Toft 0(2), Tom Woolley 0(3). – 42 (Aggregate 92)
Images: Mike Hinves