Leicester 53 Eastbourne 37

The Eastbourne Fineprint Eagles put up a valiant fight at Leicester tonight but fell away over the last three races.

It was a case of deja vu for the Sussex club who suffered a similar fate at Somerset in the Championship Shield.

Just as we did in the West Country, the Eagles conceded the last three heats 5-1 having clung on to their rivals up to heat 12 and contributed to a great nights racing.

Lions:  Scott Nicholls 12+1 (5), Richie Worrall 10+1 (5), Kyle Howarth 10 (4), Ellis Perks 9+2 (6), Connor Mountain 7+2 (5), Jack Thomas 5+2 (5), Josh Bates withdrawn – 53

Eagles: Lewi Kerr 11 (5), Edward Kennett 11 (6), Richard Lawson 5+1 (4), Alfie Bowtell 4+1 (4), Tom Brennan 3 (4), Ben Morley 2 (4), Georgie Wood 1+1(3) – 37

On a personal note, out match reporter would like us to record: “I would like to go on record and say what blooming lovely people the Leicester fans are – handshakes all round and good wishes for a safe trip home. It truly is a family sport.

We covered the meeting live. Here is how our coverage unfolded.

The Eastbourne Fineprint Eagles are at Leicester tonight in their first Championship league match of the season.

They face the in-form Lions, led by former Eagle, Scott Nicholls. They also track Ellis Perks, who represented the club in the National League.

Poster boy: Ellis Perks on the front cover of tonight’s programme at Leicester.

Our man Kevin Ling is already trackside at the Paul Chapman and Sons Arena to bring you heat-by-heat details and commentary as it happens.

Remember, you may need to refresh this page to ensure you get the latest information.

And, of course we do it all again with the Leicester Lions tomorrow (Sunday, May 5) but this time at Arlington Stadium with a 3.30pm start.

So here is Kevin’s view of the track.

Eastbourne Eagles on track walk
Counting down to start time at Leicester
Start line looks to have plenty of grip

Teams confirmed:

Lions: Scott Nicholls, Connor Mountain, Josh Bates, Kyle Howarth (guest), Richie Worrall, Jack Thomas, Ellis Perks.

Eagles: Edward Kennett, Ben Morley, Alfie Bowtell, Lewi Kerr, Richard Lawson, Georgie Wood, Tom Brennan.

Weather: Breezy generally overcast with the odd spot of rain. Kevin thinks all will be OK for racing.

So here we go on tonight’s coverage.

Leicester win toss and defer choice of gates to heat 15 – Eagles choose 1 and 3 in heat one

Heat 1: Great first race – Edward leads Nicholls  into first bend and two races in one develop as Ed holds Scott off in brilliant style for the full course and behind them Ben performing similar heroics, keeping Mountain out of the points, 2-4, 2-4, time 61.63

Eastbourne Eagles riding at Leicester
The riders come to tapes for heat one

2: Perks fast from the start and that is him away and gone – Thomas joins him momentarily in the 5-1 position but Tom swoops around the former Kent man’s outside down the back straight to bank second – Georgie close at hand throughout but just couldn’t make it stick, 4-2, 6-6  time 61.69

3: Such a shame – Alfie and Lewi hit the front heading into the first turn and things looking good. Alfie locked up on second turn, however, bringing Lewi down with him. Both soon up and seemingly okay but Alfie ruled out of re-run. Josh Bates clipped the fallen Kerr – didn’t fall but now being looked over by paramedics. There will be a re-run but Thompson twins now being interviewed – they have just celebrated their 15th birthdays. Bates still being checked. Bates unfortunately has had to withdraw from the meeting – aggravated injury sustained while guesting for Berwick at Edinburgh last night. Thomas replaces Bates.

3 Re-run: Lewi shows no ill effects from his spill – first into the first turn and that is where he stays despite immense pressure from Howarth for the full four laps – Thomas not far from the action but in truth never really in contention, 3-3, 9-9, time 62.13

4: The Lions fans are celebrating and understandably so – Worrall and Perks jet propelled out of the start leading both Lawson and Brennan – Worrall continues to secure a stylish win and Perks underlines the progress he has clearly made romping home ahead of the hard chasing Richard, 5-1, 14-10, time 62.25

NEXT ARLINGTON ACTION: TOMORROW, May 5 when the Fineprint Eagles face Leicester in Championship action, 3.30pm.

Eastbourne Eagles
Looks to us like Tom Brennan getting ready, picture via the Leicester Lions Twitter feed

5: Leicester implementing IRR (injured rider replacement) for Bates – Perks introduced as his replacement in heat 5. Genuine wow moment from Edward Kennett not once but twice – gating third behind both Perks and Howarth. Kyle locked it slightly on second turn and Ed swept through on the inside of the pair of them heading into third turn – he looked to have race in the bag but Howarth cut through on his inside bend two on the second lap – Howarth locked it again on third / fourth which then saw Kennett blast back past for wow moment number two – 3-3 with Edward taking the win, Ben pulling up on final lap out of contention, 3-3 ,17-13, time 62.25

Edward Kennett setting the Paul Chapmans and Sons Arena alight in heat 5

6: Nicholls gates but Lawson blazes past out of second bend . With Georgie fending off Mountain and the Eagles holding the 4-2 signs were looking good. It was soon to change, however, Nicholls cutting back under Richard and Mountain edging ahead of Wood to reverse the result to a 4-2 to the Lions. Entertaining racing though and whoever said no overtaking at Leicester was fibbing,  4-2, 21-15 ,time 62.13

7: Fate is clearly a fickle mistress and with the Lions seemingly in the ascendency, heat seven would deal them a blow. Leicester gated on a 5-1 with Worralll leading Thomas ahead of Bowtell and Kerr. Alfie produced a brilliant move heading into turn three easing Thomas aside so that partner Lewi can join him in the minor places – a 3-3 looking the likely outcome. Worrall then suffered an engine failure down the back straight of lap three leaving Kerr and Bowtell to sweep through for maximum points – in many ways a gift but one we will readily take with the margin now reducing to 2-points, 22-20 in favour of the hosts, time 64.63

8: Fate now takes a swipe back at the Eagles. Perks leads from Mountain with Ben Morley in close contention – Ben storms past Mountain inside on back straight and puts pressure on Perks into bend three. Perks holds the lead and as the pair straighten heading into lap two and Mountain comes back inside Morley – whether any contact was made is unclear but Ben parts company with his machine and falls on bend two – race is stopped with Ben failing to clear the track but Lions supporters jeers soon turn to cheers as Ben is disqualified and the result is awarded as a 5-1 to the hosts 5-1, 27-21, no time

Joint team manager Will Pottinger has used his tactical substitute in heat 9

NEXT ARLINGTON ACTION: TOMORROW, May 5 when the Fineprint Eagles face Leicester in Championship action, 3.30pm.

9: Perks in red as IRR for Bates. Edward as tac sub in place of Georgie. By the way, Kevin says it is cold trackside tonight. Another superb four laps but to the delight of the home fans it was the hired gun Kyle Howarth who would get the verdict – Ed trying all he knew but it was just out of reach – Richard not far from the action but pegging the in-form Perks at the back. This ensured the 3-3 and the difference remains at 30-24, time 63.07

10: Another superb gate from Lewi and an equally superb four laps saw him thwart every attempt by Nicholls to pass – they crossed the line with barely inches between them but importantly in was the Eagle who got the win. Behind them, Mountain was destined to get the better of Bowtell meaning a second successive share of the spoils, 33-27, time 62.63

11: Kennett is back in the winning groove and it’s good news for the Eagles – Ben also makes a great fist of things pressuring Worrall for the first two laps. Though unable to remain on terms with the Lions heatleader, he saw off the challenge of Thomas to secure the 4-2 to the visitors and with that the scores narrowed to 35-31, with four heats left to run; time 63.31

Ben Morley: In the thick of the action in heat 11.

12: Mountain as IRR for Bates. Alfie rides a titanic back straight to go from third to first into bend three on first lap – Mountain fights back and hits the front heading into lap two – at that point Perks’ motor dies and although Mountain continues for the win the Eagles pair bank the minor places and the difference is still four, 38-34, time 63.37

Lights on at Leicester as meeting comes to a climax.

NEXT ARLINGTON ACTION: TOMORROW, May 5 when the Fineprint Eagles face Leicester in Championship action, 3.30pm.

13: The Lions knew just what they had to do and unfortunately for the Eagles they did it in some style – Nicholls and Worrall trapped alongside each other and this time neither Lawson or Kennett possessed the where with all to get on terms, 5-1, 43-35, time 62.94

14: Kerr makes a fine gate to lead into the first turn but on the exit of bend 2 it was that man Howarth who would emerge first and to the delight of the home fans Thomas would also join them at the front. Sadly for the Eagles, it was a case of shades of Somerset as the Lions took a second successive 5-1 – the win now in the bag with the scores standing at 48-36 time 64.31

Ready for the final showdown.

15: Nicholls (r), Worrall (b), Kerr (w), Kennett (y). Lions take gates 1 and 3. Can the Eagles prevent that third 5-1? Sadly, no. Nicholls gates to take the win – Kerr holds second place into bend three but Worrall makes the best use of the outside line to join his partner at the front – closing 5-1, final score 53-37, time 63.38

NEXT ARLINGTON ACTION: TOMORROW, May 5 when the Fineprint Eagles face Leicester in Championship action, 3.30pm.

Image credits: Mike Hinves & Tiffani Graveling Photography