Eastbourne suffered a second home defeat at Arlington Stadium today (July 18) when the Leicester Lions took the points with a 48-41 victory.
The HG Aerospace Eagles were on the back foot for much of the match, suffering a number of falls and mechanical problems.
After seven races, the visitors had established 25-16 lead but the Eagles battled back and after heat ten they were 30-29 ahead.
The advantage was short-lived with a Leicester 5-1 in the next race re-establishing a lead they were not to relinquish.
Eastbourne team manager Trevor Geer said: “I knew it was going to be a tough meeting against Leicester, especially with Scott Nicholls guesting for them at No 1.
“He’s the best in the league around Eastbourne.
“We seemed to have the gremlins today. There were some bike failures when we were in for points.
“Tom Brennan broke down on the start line when he was off the inside where he should have got some points from there.
“It was all little things but the match went down to the wire.
“We do this week after week but this time it was one step too far.”
Geer said it was proving difficult to get all seven riders in form at the same time.
“When we were at Glasgow we could have won but we ended up carrying three riders. I think they got four points between the three of them and it has been like that most meetings,” he said.
Nathan Ablitt, from Hailsham, who was due to make his home Championship debut for the Eagles, was unable to take his place in the line-up because of rib injuries suffered on Thursday at the British Under-21 final.
Eastbourne 41: Richard Lawson 12+2, Kyle Newman 9+1, Edward Kennett 7+1, Tom Brennan 7, Lewis Kerr 3, Jake Knight 2, Jason Edwards 1.
Leicester 48: Nick Morris 13, Dan Thompson 11, Scott Nicholls 10+1, Ryan Douglas 5+1, Kyle Howarth 5, Joe Thompson 3+1, Zaine Kennedy 1.
In the second match of the afternoon, the Leicester Cubs enabled the East Midlands club to claim a double over Eastbourne, winning 54-32.
The Seagulls were weakened by the loss of Ablitt and the unavailability of captain Richard Andrews.
Eli Meadows came in to make his debut for the Seagulls, powered by Save Thurrock Hammers Speedway, at reserve and scored six points plus two bonus.
Hailsham’s Vinnie Joe Foord also made his debut only days after his 15th birthday.
The youngster had an eventful afternoon falling in his first three rides.
However, he regained his composure and scored his first league point in his fourth outing.
Eastbourne: Jake Knight 9, Danno Verge 8, Eli Meadows 6+2, Connor King 3+1, Nick Laurence 3+1, Joe Alcock 2, Vinnie Joe Ford 1.
Leicester: Joe Thompson 17, Tom Spencer 13+1, Dan Thompson 12+2, Ben Trigger 7+2, Mickie Simpson 4, Kai Ward 1+1, Joe Lawlor r/r.
On Tuesday (July 20), the Eagles travel to Kent for the rearranged second leg of the KO Cup.
The Sussex side are very much in the driving seat after winning the first leg 58-32.
Geer commented: I would be very, very disappointed if we don’t go through.
“Traditionally, Eastbourne always do well in the cup and it will be great to get a run going.
“We will have Drew Kemp back and he goes well there.”
Eastbourne: Richard Lawson, Kyle Newman, Edward Kennett, Tom Brennan, Lewi Kerr, Jason Edwards, Drew Kemp.
Image Credit: Mike Hinves