Eagles fail to find that finishing touch

Steve Worrall
Steve Worrall

For the second time in the space of three days, the Eastbourne Eagles were left wanting in the closing stages of a meet.

They slipped to a travelling defeat, this time by a 49-41 margin at the home of Elite League newcomers, the Leicester Lions on Saturday.

Having claimed their first away point of the campaign at Swindon on Thursday, the Sussex side were undoubtedly hoping to plunder further rewards as they journeyed to the Beaumont Sports Complex circuit for the first time.

Indeed, for the most part, it appeared that they would succeed in their ambition as they jousted gamely with their hosts in a highly entertaining encounter and by the conclusion of heat 12 they were still on a par with the Lions, the scores standing at 36-points apiece.

Two maximum 5-1s to the Lions in the final three races brought the Eagles swiftly to account, however.

Home number one Jason Doyle paired up with guest Nick Morris and then home skipper Mads Korneliussen in a titanic last heat to extend the final margin to 8-points, ensuring a maximum haul of three Elite League points for the Midland outfit and the Eagles, disappointingly, with nothing to show for their efforts.

Bjarne Pedersen outgunned Doyle to secure an opening heat 4-2 for Eastbourne and things continued to look good as Dan Halsey romped into an early lead in race two.

Halsey would come to grief on the first bend of the second lap, Worrall continuing to take the first of three wins, home reserves Tom Perry and Max Clegg fending off the remounted Eagle for a share of the spoils.

Eastbourne hit back in the next, former Eagle Peter Ljung taking an alarming spill into the second bend air fence to attract his disqualification, the rerun seeing Worrall and Cameron Woodward team ride for a 5-1 over Clegg to narrow the deficit to 2-points, 22-20.

Though the hosts got the best of heat eight, their 4-2 was countered with a second Eagles maximum, Worrall winning the ninth, this time with Halsey in tow to restore parity, 27-27 between the teams, the race finally being awarded after Perry suffered a fall on the final lap after mounting a late challenge on the Eastbourne duo.

Doyle took the tenth, Joonas Kylmakorpi and Mikkel Michelsen combining to fend off Ljung.

Pedersen was an impressive winner of race eleven, handing out Korneliussen’s one defeat by an opponent on the night and then Ljung made light of a nightmarish evening for him personally, taking the win ahead of Timo Lahti and Worrall in heat 12, registering his first points of proceedings at moving the scores to 36-points apiece with those epic, but for Eastbourne, ultimately deflating final three heats left to run.

Indeed, the stage was set for a titanic finish but it was the Lions who roared the loudest, the two 5-1s sending their supporters home delighted, but for Eagles, though pride maybe intact, they would face the long road South with otherwise no reward to come by.

Lions: Mads Korneliussen 13+1(5), Jason Doyle 11+2(5), Simon Stead 9(4), Nick Morris (Guest for Patrick Hougaard) 6+2(4), Tom Perry 4+1(5), Max Clegg 3+1(3), Peter Ljung 3(4). - 49

Eagles: Steve Worrall (Guest for Lewis Blackbird) 10+1(5), Bjarne Pedersen 9(5), Joonas Kylmakorpi 7(5), Cameron Woodward 5+1(4), Timo Lahti 5(4), Mikkel Michelsen 3+1(4), Danny Halsey 2+1(3). – 41