Eastbourne supercharged their 2018 National League campaign with a 55-35 win at Plymouth tonight (August 10).
The Forman IT Eagles roared into the lead from the off and were never headed.
A brief mid-match rally from the Devonians was quelled as the Eagles took complete advantage of an injury to Plymouth’s No 1, Ellis Perks, in the first race.
Perks, a former Eagle, had to withdraw from the meeting because of the crash.
Connor Dugard, the Eastbourne team manager, said: “A great performance and just what we wanted as we begin a really busy period of racing.
“This has set us up brilliantly. Every team member played a full part and we look forward to completing a quick double tomorrow night at Arlington.”
Here’s our live blog from Plymouth.
Eastbourne are in National League action tonight at Plymouth.
Our match reporter Kevin Ling is at the St Boniface Arena and will bring us the action heat by heat.
Bringing it all together back at base is Paul Watson.
Kevin reports riders and supporters saw plenty of rain on the way to the south west but it is fine at the track, although black clouds are around.
Plymouth: Ellis Perks, Ryan Terry-Daley, R/R for Tim Webster, Richard Andrews, Henry Atkins, Kelsey Dugard, Mick Sutton.
Eastbourne Forman IT Eagles: Danny Ayres, Jason Edwards, Mark Baseby, Charley Powell, Georgie Wood, Ethan Spiller.
A meticulous minute’s silence for Bob Dugard followed by a minute’s applause. A well respected moment.
There is also a page tribute in the Plymouth programme tonight.
The Plymouth team features three former Eagles – Perks, Andrews and Dugard. The Devonians team manager is another ex-Eagle, Mattie Bates.
Our picture on the home page shows the riders on parade.
Ht 1: Edwards leads out of start – Ayres comes through to join him at front out of bend 2. Then Perks moves inside of Ayres on bend four to take second and gives chase to Edwards – between bends 1 and 2 he makes his move but spears into Edwards and falls, Jason remains upright – perks soon up but is excluded.
The re-run is full of drama. Edwards leads again but Ayres rides round the outside to take the lead – Eagles 5-1 looks on the cards with RTD well adrift – third turn lap 2 Ayres drops it but both riders avoid him – Ayres remounts and looks to have the home man in his sights but just too big an ask – final bend he slides off again but remounts to secure an opening 4-2 for the visitors – Edwards taking the win in a time of 53.13
INJURY NEWS: Not such good news on Ellis Perks – the Devils’ number one having to withdraw from the meeting with an injured shoulder.
Ht 2: Eagles’ new breed of hero Ethan Spiller takes the win in race two – Dugard makes the gate but Spiller rounds around him down back straight with Brooks also getting the better of Sutton at this point – that is how it stayed though Spiller appeared to be nursing his motor around from the half way mark, 2-4, 4-8, time 53.44
Ht 3: RTD is the Plymouth R/R in this heat. Baseby and Powell leap out of the traps to lead from Andrews in the 5-1 position – Andrews never gave up the chase on Powell and a great race ensued – though baseby would take a comfortable win. Andrews’ persistence was rewarded as Powell locked up on the final bend allowing the Devils’ rider through for second by the narrowest of margins, 2-4, 6-12, 52.31
Eastbourne trackman Darren Prodger has just posted some photos of the Arlington track on Facebook. Not surprisingly it is very wet which some large puddles. The good news is that a fine, dry day is forecast for tomorrow with plenty of sunshine. Track should be perfect.
Ht 4: Georgie storms from the start to win comfortably from Atkins. Brooks was never far adrift in third but a fair way back for Mick Sutton who you have to feel for – all effort but struggling to make any sort of impact – fourth successive 4-2 to eagles, 8-16, time 51.75
Ht 5: Dugard is the Plymouth R/R in red. Edwards again makes start but Ayres rides past down back straight on outside – Andrews follows him through the gap and gives chase to the Eastbourne guest. That was how things stayed with the visitors recording a fifth straight 4-2 to lead 20-10 – unfortunately Kelsey took a tumble on the final bend whilst adrift of the field – thankfully soon up and walking back to the pits – time 53.13
Ht 6: Plymouth reserve Mick Sutton in for the injured Ellis Perks. Georgie like lightning out of the start to romp into the lead – also none too shabby himself is Spiller the younger who tracked him with every turn of the wheel whilst widening the gap from third place Ryan Terry Daley – Eagles first 5-1 which now sees them lead 25-11, time 52.38
Summary at this stage: The loss of Ellis Perks is a huge blow to Plymouth, especially as they were already using rider replacement at No 3 and have an inexperienced reserve at No 7. The Forman IT Eagles have been on top right from the start and it is just the start needed as we aim to zoom up the league table into the Play Off places. Great that Ethan Spiller opens his Eastbourne career with a heat win.
Your Arlington track man, Darren Prodger has further posted on Facebook with regards to today’s heavy rain in East Sussex: “The track was overdue some rain, but what we had in a short space of time was a bit excessive! But it will all end up fine”
Ht 7: Sutton having a busy night. He is out again, this time in blue taking the place of Kelsey. Atkins finally offers the home fans a moment to cheer with a powerful all the way win over Baseby with Powell following in third. The race time was an impressive 51.96, 3-3, 14-28
Ht 8: Kelsey now coming out in place of Sutton in blue. Mattie Bates playing the reserve switch card. This time RTD gets the drop on the other three and when Dugard featured early on it appeared game on for the Devils. Edwards soon made his mark getting the better of the former Eagle and a 4-2 looked the likely outcome – third bend of the third lap saw Kelsey come to grief, however, leaving Brooks a route through for third place and a share of the spoils 3-3, 17-31, time 51.98
Don’t forget: We are racing at Arlington tomorrow (August 11) against Plymouth. The National League match begins at 7.30pm. There is junior racing from 6.45 and a Southern Development League match after the NL march finishes (about 9pm). The programme has been produced in memory of Bob Dugard.
Ht 9: Atkins in red as R/R. A tight first turn saw Spiller head into the air fence – thankfully soon to rise and head back to the pits. To the casual observer, it appeared that a rerun with all four would be the call but somehow that was not how referee Ronnie Allan viewed things and the Eagles reserve was ruled out (harshly to my mind.
Rerun saw Georgie make the start but he got caught out on the first turn as Andrews then Atkins both got the better of him – a 5-1 was how it remained with Atkins taking the win from Andrews. Given the problems they’ve been having, one could hardly begrudge the home side their win, one that narrowed the scores to 32-22 in Eagles favour – with three successive heat winners could the comeback be on? Time 51.90
Ht 10: Sutton in red for Perks. Kevin says talk of a fightback might have been premature but though Terry-Daley hit the front, Baseby would take him on the outside and Powell on the inside down the back straight. On the second lap, third bend, RTD hit trouble as he fell while giving chase to the Eagles duo – he was quickly up but that was his race over, Baseby and Powell coming home for the swift reply 5-1 that saw the scores move to 23-37. Biggest cheer of the night so far was reserved for Sutton who crossed the line to claim his first point – time 54.22
Summary at this stage: Eastbourne are very much in the box seat, especially as captain Baseby with Powell struck back at once in heat ten to answer the Plymouth 5-1 with an Eagles maximum heat win. They’re having a cup of tea now but Connor Dugard and his team will be well satisfied with how things are going at two-thirds distance.
Many children taking part in a children’s running race.
Ht 11: Atkins’ winning streak was brought to a halt by Danny Ayres who led him all the way – Edwards featured strongly in the early part but his challenge dropped away as Atkins found a way past, 2-4, 25-41, time 52.50
Ht 12: Andrews in red as R/R and Kelsey in place of Sutton in blue as Mattie shuffles the pack once again for the Devils. To be fair, he’s not had a very good hand to play tonight. Great race as Baseby and Andrews traded places in the early part but Richie made home knowledge count as he rode round Eagles’ captain on the back straight of lap two – Spiller held a comfortable third from Dugard securing the 3-3, 28-44, 52.84. That’s victory for the Eagles.
Ht 13: Sutton for Perks. Now we can crack open the bubbly. Eagles made sure of all four league points as Wood emerged clear of Ayres down the back straight of lap one, the pair leading home Atkins for the 5-1 and an overall 29-49 lead – time 52.59
Ht 14: Kelsey exceeds two minutes and will go off 15m handicap. Andrews blazes away for the win ahead of Powell with Brooks following on in third – 3-3 takes the Eagles past the half century mark with the scores standing at 32-52. Kevin adds: Despite being your Eastbourne reporter, I do feel pleased for Richard Andrews who looks far more the rider than he did during his purple patch with the Eagles – nice to see. Time 53.60
Tomorrow night at Arlington – more races than you can shake a stick at >>>junior heats from 6.45pm, National League – Eagles v Plymouth at 7.30pm and Weymouth Wildcats v Exeter in the SDL from around 9pm. Great value, great speedway – that’s Eastbourne.
There are around 30 Eastbourne fans in the stadium tonight and they are delighted with the team’s performance. We thank them for making the journey to the Westcountry at the height of the holiday season in often poor driving conditions. We wish everyone a safe journey home. And thanks to you following the action at home through this live blog.
The Eastbourne Forman IT Eagles are on the march.
Ht 15: Andrews red – Atkins blue – Wood white – Baseby yellow. Andrews slow from the start – Atkins rounds Baseby and Wood to take lead down back straight – Andrews gives chase and appears to be lining Baseby up but he falls on third turn of second lap necessitating a race stoppage – race duly awarded to Atkins from Wood with Baseby taking third 3-3 to close proceedings – final score a satisfying 55-35 win to the Eagles – no time as race awarded
Eagles: Wood 12(5), Baseby 11+1(5), Ayres 9+1(4), Edwards 7(4), Powell 6+2(4), Spiller 6+2(4), Brooks 4+2(4)
Devils: Atkins 14(6), Andrews12+1(6), Terry-Daley 6(5), Dugard 2(6), Sutton 1(6), Perks 0(1)
Tomorrow (August 11), Tom Brennan rides in the European U-19 Final in Finland. Good luck, Tom.