Blackbird inspires Eagles against Robins
Eastbourne Eagles added another three Elite League points to their tally on Saturday night.
It keeps them in the hunt for an end-of-season Play Off berth courtesy of a wholly comfortable 54-37 victory over the Swindon Robins at Arlington stadium.
For the second week in succession, the visiting team arrived missing their number one rider, this week being Peter Kildemand’s turn to compete in the sport’s European Championship.
With no facility available this left the Robins as virtual lambs to the slaughter and Eastbourne certainly didn’t let opportunity pass them by, rattling up points at will, particularly in the early part of the meeting.
The thorn in Eastbourne’s side throughout the meeting proved to be former Eagle Simon Gustafsson, the young Swede winning heat one in some style ahead of Bjarne Pedersen and Timo Lahti.
As the night progressed he demonstrated similar dash, exciting from the back bursts seeing him enjoy further triumphs in heats twelve, against Lewis Blackbird and in the nominated final race in which he enjoyed a maximum 5-1 with Robins’ Captain Troy Batchelor.
The second 5-1 saw Batchelor reduced to third place as the tactical ride by Joonas Kylmakorpi and Cameron Woodward. It set the scores at 26-10 in Eagles favour at the conclusion of race six.
Lahti took heat seven to anchor a further 4-2 and then Woodward outpaced Gustafsson, himself taking the tactical ride, in the eighth, the resultant 4-4 preventing the visitors making any inroads into the Eastbourne lead which now stood at 34-16.
The Sussex outfit continued apace in the next however, Pedersen and Lahti combining for Eagles fourth 5-1 in the tenth, a 4-2 following in quick succession as Kylmakorpi produced a flying win ahead of Batchelor in heat eleven, the scores moving to an unassailable 45-22.
The penultimate race was shared, Woodward halting Swindon’s run of heat wins, however the final word belonged to the Robins, Gustafsson repeating his heroics of three races earlier with another high speed charge around the outside, this time passing early race leader Michelsen in the last race. Batchelor would not be denied either, scorching past the Dane in ruthless fashion to secure maximum points for the visitors.
This inglorious end, though not the grandstand finish they might have hoped for, did not dent Eastbourne fortunes unduly, the match was won and with the final score standing at 54-37, three-points to keep them in and around the Play Off positions remained in the bag.
Eagles: Lewis Blackbird 10(4), Cameron Woodward 9+1(4), Timo Lahti 8+3(5), Mikkel Michelsen 8+1(5), Joonas Kylmakorpi 8(4), Bjarne Pedersen 8(4), Danny Halsey 3+1(4). – 54
Robins: Justin Sedgeman (Guest for Peter Kildemand) 0(4), Simon Gustafsson 15(5), Troy Batchelor 8+1(5), Steve Worrall 5+1(5), Dakota North 5(4), Nick Morris 4(4), Nathan Greaves 0(3). - 37