Glory beckons for the Eastbourne Fineprint Eagles IF they can win tonight’s (August 3) match at Arlington Stadium by more than four points.
They face Scottish glamour club Glasgow in the Championship Shield semi-final and trail by four points from last week’s first leg.
It is the biggest match the Eagles have staged in a long while and a big crowd is expected for the tie which gets under way at 7.30pm.
Eastbourne are at full strength.
Glasgow are without injury victim Paul Starke and No 1 Craig Cook is carrying a wrist injury, although that does not seem to have affected his form.
The visitors introduce Danish star Mikkel B Andersen into their line-up.
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Gates 5.45PM: Pay at Gate (cash or card) Main event start time 7.30pm
Kevin Ling set the scene for tonight’s match.
Not so much a Red Letter Day as a Red and White Striped Letter Day as the Eastbourne ‘Fineprint’ Eagles face arguably their toughest match of the season so far tonight at Arlington stadium (7.30 pm start time) and certainly the one with the most riding on it thus far.
The Glasgow Tigers make their second visit of the campaign to the Sussex countryside and on this occasion the prize on offer for the two sides is not Championship League points, this time there is a place in the Championship Shield Final at stake.
The Tigers make the long journey south as very much the team in form with impressive travelling victories at both Scunthorpe (46-44) and Somerset (48-42) , where they won against a consolidated Rebels outfit, in the last seven days to reflect upon.
Last night preceding their date with the Eagles they also saw off their challenge of a strong Redcar Bears side, one containing newly crowned British Champion Charles Wright by a 48-42 margin around their own Ashfield circuit.
With the likes of Team GB star Craig Cook and Dane Claus Vissing gracing their line up and with fellow Dane Rasmus Jensen in such blistering form of late it is no mystery that Glasgow have only tasted defeat in just three of 22 matches so far in season 2019.
In spite of their overall dominance, the first leg of this evening’s return fixture in Glasgow some 11 days ago so nearly saw the form book turned upside down, the Eagles producing arguably their finest performance of the campaign to date to give themselves every chance of progressing through tonight to a Championship final date against the Leicester Lions.
Eastbourne hit the hosts hard from the word go and almost found them wanting as they led the fixture by six-points with as few as four heats left on the card.
The Tigers were set to rally however, a 12th heat 5-1 proving crucial and the turning point and successive 4-2’s in each of the final three seeing them carve out a 4-point (47-43) advantage with which to travel to Sussex.
Normal circumstances might class the Eagles as the slight favourites to progress through to the Final given the fine run of home form they have demonstrated in recent weeks.
However, these are anything but normal circumstances and with Glasgow undeniably such a dominant force wherever they roam, many pundits would still view the Sussex outfit as the likely underdogs.
The Tigers have already tasted victory at Arlington this season as they followed up a 56-33 home success with a 45-44 travelling triumph to complete a quick-fire double over their southern opponents back in mid-May.
Both teams personnel have altered since that day, the Eagles having introduced both Jason Edwards and Kyle Newman, replacing Ben Morley and the unfortunate Tom Brennan (who sustained up his potentially season ending injury in the corresponding fixture).
As for the Scottish septet, they have brought in Dane Mikkel B. Andersen as a switch for the out-of-form James Sarjeant while highly rated prospect Connor Bailey is also a recent inclusion in the reserve berth.
One notable absentee from the Saturday night match up and one that will not aid the Glasgow cause is that of tough as teak Paul Starke who sustained an unfortunate wrist injury in last Monday’s British Final at Belle Vue’s National Speedway Stadium.
Starke was one of the chief contributors to the Tigers early season success in Sussex with a paid 10-point tally that did as much as anything to earn them their narrow victory.
His absence will be covered by the rider replacement facility with Vissing and the two reserves, Bailey and Kyle Bickley eligible to fulfil his outings.
It is likely to prove the toughest of encounters.
They home side will potentially be considered as the underdogs, they will most certainly be focused upon the task at hand and you can be sure that they will be gunning for the victory that could see them through to a major competition final.
If they could achieve even that in their first season of Championship racing that would be regarded as a huge success in itself by the forward thinking management.
Teams: (in alphabetical order)
Eagles: Alfie Bowtell, Jason Edwards, Edward Kennett, Lewis Kerr, Richard Lawson, Kyle Newman, Georgie Wood.
Tigers: Connor Bailey, Kyle Bickley, Craig Cook, Rasmus Jensen, Claus Vissing, Mikkel B. Andersen, (Rider Replacement for) Paul Starke.
Images: Mike Hinves and Tiffani Graveling Photography