Update: Sunday, 10am: Tom Brennan has broken his leg in three places.
From last night:
Eagles lose by one point – again and Tom Brennan injured
Eastbourne Speedway lost their second consecutive home match by one point when they went down 45-44 to Glasgow on Saturday (May 18) night at Arlington Stadium.
The loss was made worse when talented teenager Tom Brennan smashed into the air fence and suffered a broken lower right leg.
Tom was taken from the track by ambulance and transferred to the Conquest Hospital at Hastings.
The match was delayed for an hour while he was treated and his transfer to hospital arranged.
Eastbourne have now lost four matches on the trot.
Both Leicester and now Glasgow have secured quick-fire doubles over the Fineprint Eagles.
The one bright spot for Eastbourne was that captain Edward Kennett lowered the colours of Craig Cook, who has been on a long unbeaten run.
Director of Speedway, Jon Cook, said: “We set a very high standard in the first three matches, both on and off the track.
“We have had two self-inflicted defeats [at Arlington] and those defeats have come for a variety of reasons and it would be unprofessional of me to enlarge upon them until we have spoken to the people involved.
“Speedway fans are not foolish people. They can see the team is not sitting quite right. It is not looking comfortable.
“We need to make the team comfortable back at its home and to do that we need to work with both team members and with people off track to get that home track feeling back.”
He said in the last two meetings the Eagles had thrown away points “in fairly ridiculous circumstances, which I don’t re-call seeing two meetings in a row”.
Cook continued: “We could say that if Tom had not sadly crashed out we would have won this speedway meeting, which we would have done.”
Cook said, however, some bad decisions were being made on track.
“One or two of the riders need to look at the way they are on track. To be a top-class speedway rider you need a bit more application and I think one or two riders are feeling a little bit too comfortable.
“That needs to change.
“We want to succeed and we won’t succeed off track, in the we have so far, if the team does not win speedway meetings.
“We need to get the team ship-shape and ready to go. We need to do that in time for next Saturday.”
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Tomorrow, we will have more reflections on the defeat by Glasgow along with Kevin Ling’s detailed match report.
EASTBOURNE 44: Tom Brennan 11+2, Edward Kennett 11+1, Lewis Kerr 11, Richard Lawson 7, Ben Morley 3+2, Alfie Bowtell 1, Georgie Wood 0.
GLASGOW 45: Craig Cook 11, Paul Starke 9+1, Rasmus Jensen 8+1, Connor Coles 6+2, Claus Vissing 6+1, Kyle Bickley 3+1, James Sarjeant 2.
The Kevin Ling verdict
Sussex speedway squad Eastbourne ‘Fineprint’ Eagles suffered double agony at Arlington stadium on Saturday evening. Firstly a catalogue of misfortune saw them slip to a second successive home defeat by a 45-44 margin, this time at the hands of the visiting Glasgow Tigers.
This reverse also spelled the club’s fourth straight defeat in their opening four Championship contests.
More poignantly however, importantly and potentially far more reaching both for the rider himself and the team as a whole was the horrific injury sustained by Eagles young star Tom Brennan,
Brennan suffered a break, in three places as later reports revealed, to his lower right leg following a high speed crash in heat 12 and now faces a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
Suffice to say in instances such as these the result, though important quickly becomes secondary in significance and all thoughts and concerns are channeled towards the rider and his welfare.
Such a great shame however, to that point Brennan had demonstrated some scintillating form to head the Eagles score chart and he was set to be instrumental in the fightback that was emerging as Eastbourne looked to recover from a problem laden start to the meeting.
At the time of the accident the Sussex side had fought back from a 7-point deficit (17-24) at the conclusion of heat seven and had reduced the margin to just one, 32-33, heading into that fateful race twelve.
Both Brennan and Alfie Bowtell were applying pressure to race leader Rasmus Jensen and former Eagle Connor Coles but as the Eagles reserve looked poised to make his move around the outside on bend three and slammed into the safety air fence.
With it quickly becoming apparent that Brennan needed on track assistance, a delay of almost an hour passed as the young rider was tended to and the County Ambulance was awaited.
When the action resumed much of the stuffing had understandably been knocked out of the home offensive, this being emphasised as the Glasgow duo duly seized the 5-1 that set the difference at 5-points (33-38) and with just three races remaining on the card, the Eagles clearly had a mountain to climb.
Club skipper Edward Kennett gave the hosts hopes something of a boost in heat thirteen as he inflicted a rare defeat on top Championship performer Craig Cook but with home hero Richard Lawson trailing Claus Vissing to the chequered flag; this left the Eagles those 5-points adrift.
The likelihood would have been that Brennan would have played a part in the penultimate race but with him now en-route to hospital this plan quite clearly couldn’t be implemented.
In the event Lewi Kerr continued what had proved a power house performance – save for a tapes exclusion in his first outing – with a win; however with Georgie Wood unable to match the speed of either the impressive Paul Starke or Kyle Bickley the match was finally lost.
A final race 5-1 maybe provided a crumb of comfort for the Sussex fans however it wouldn’t prove sufficient to nullify the disappointment of a second successive home defeat.
Track conditions could best be described as challenging in the early part, both Wood and Bowtell (twice) proving casualties within the first five races, this undoubtedly hampering Eagles scoring.
Following on from a 56-33 defeat at the home of the Tigers the previous evening, Eastbourne were certainly looking to atone for that and intent on gaining a measure of revenge.
Kennett looked set to implement that plan as he lead Cook and looked to be on course for first race victory – with Ben Morley holding third at the expense of James Sarjeant, an opening 4-2 to the hosts would certainly have been deemed a satisfactory start however wasn’t about to give up the chase on Kennett and the final half lap saw him surge past the Eagles skipper to secure a share of the spoils (winning time 58.0).
With Coles disqualified for having collided with and unseated partner Bickley in race two, Brennan and Wood looked on course to redress that balance as they comfortably led Bickley in the restart. Misfortune was soon to strike however as Wood became an early victim of the third turn and having picked up drive on the third lap he reared and careered into the air fence.
The result was awarded as a 3-2 to the hosts but the signs were already there that it may just prove one of those nights.
Such a theory grew in prominence in the third as Bowtell rode around Rasmus Jensen but then overcooked it. The visitor collected him and both fell with the home being subsequently disqualified as the cause. Thankfully both riders were uninjured (as indeed was Wood in the previous race) but the gloom for Eastbourne deepened further as Kerr snagged the starting tapes at the second time of asking.
Brennan was called upon to replace Kerr but on this occasion he was unable to prevent Jensen and Starke from securing the 5-1 that would for them open up a 3-point (7-10) advantage (winning time 57.9).
It was all change once again and this time Brennan was to prove the star of the show as he flashed past Vissing on the inside entering lap three to join Lawson in a swift reply 5-1 (winning time 57.8) that would restore the home lead at 12-11.
Just four laps on and it was all change once again as Bowtell again suffered a fall and was ruled out of heat five. The Rerun would see Cook blaze out of the start with Kerr in pursuit but that was how things were set to remain. With Sarjeant riding unchallenged for third place and the 4-2, this saw Glasgow overturn the home lead and go 1-point to the good (14-15) once again (winning time 57.5).
Race six would see Kennett well and truly caught out by conditions and by the time he collected himself and gave chase to Vissing and Coles (who proved an inspirational choice of guest for the visitors and arguably their match winner in the final reckoning) he just came up short (winning time 58.4) and suddenly Glasgow’s advantage had stretched to 5-points (15-20) once again.
Five points then became seven (17-24) as Starke outpaced Lawson and with Wood have lifted at the start and unable to make up any ground on Jensen it was the Tigers who collected a third straight heat advantage, this one a 4-2 (winning time 57.8).
An incident packed heat eight saw Morley pull off an unbelievable manoeuvre to go from third to first but the ensuing melee witnessed a fall by Sarjeant, one that saw him disqualified from the race.
Brennan took full advantage in the rerun, leaping swiftly out of the traps to take a well-deserved 3-points (winning time 57.5).
With Morley riding shotgun all the way, despite Coles keeping him honest throughout, the 5-1 went the way of the hosts and with the scores moving to 22-25, the Eagles were back in the game.
Better was to follow and once again Brennan would show his undoubted worth in the ninth as he combined with Kerr for maximum points (winning time 57.5) ahead of Vissing and Coles and with that Eastbourne found themselves back ahead at 27-26.
Heat ten proved to be far more like the usual Kennett as he stormed to a comfortable win at the expense of both Starke and Jensen (winning time 58.2).
Unfortunately Morley was unable to replicate the same dash he had shown two races earlier but Kennett’s win was sufficient to maintain the Eagles slender advantage, one that now stood at 30-29.
It was advantage Tigers once again as Cook made it three wins out of three heading Lawson throughout (winning time 59.4).
Ill fortune continued to dog the hosts however as Wood rode into the starting tapes and penalised himself 15 metres.
Though within an ace on making up the ground on Sarjeant by the close it wasn’t to be and the 4-2 signalled the further turnaround 32-33 now proving the score in favour of the visitors.
Then of course came that fateful 5-1 to the visitors in the twelfth (winning time 60.2) – one that did as much as anything to seal their eventual victory but more distressingly looks set to have wreaked Brennan’s season.
Kennett’s win over Cook in a time of 58.3 drew rich applause from the Arlington faithful but with Lawson unable to provide the necessary back up the scores stood at 41-36 in favour of the Tigers and Eastbourne had a mountain to climb.
Though Wood gave it his all, he lost ground after nearly running into the back of Bickley on the back straight of lap one and lost momentum. That would leave Kerr to take the plaudits (winning time 59.2) but with Starke and Bickley following swiftly on all hope for the Eagles win had now departed.
With the score now standing at 39-44, a draw would still had been a possibility had the visitors failed to provide a finisher in the final race, however that was never likely to happen.
Nonetheless the Tigers would have to manage without their talisman Cook who became the latest to ride into the starting tapes. Though initial reports suggested he might start off of fifteen metres he was not destined to appear and Coles emerged to take his place.
As the tapes rose for a second time Starke was also set to hit problems as he slid off at the tail end of lap one.
His work had been done however and though the sight of Kerr and Kennett romping home for the 5-1 (winning time 59.1) ahead of Coles to secure the closing 5-1 it would prove scant consolation for the Sussex side who were left reflecting upon their second consecutive reverse by that agonising single point.
Eagles: Tom Brennan 11+2(6), Edward Kennett 11+1(5), Lewis Kerr 11(5), Richard Lawson 7(4), Ben Morley 3+2(4), Alfie Bowtell 1(3), Georgie Wood 0(4). – 44
Tigers: Craig Cook 11(4), Paul Starke 9+1(5), Rasmus Jensen 8+1(4), Connor Coles (Guest for Luke Chessell) 6+2(6), Claus Vissing 6+1(4), Kyle Bickley 3+1(3), James Sarjeant 2(4). – 45
Images: Mike Hinves and Tiffani Graveling Photography