Hammers downed by fast-starting Eagles in cup

EASTBOURNE advanced into the semi finals of the Elite League Knockout Cup in this halved encounter with Lakeside at the Arena Raceway.

Lakeside Hammers 45 Eastbourne Eagles 45

Eagles win 98-86 on aggregate

Elite League Knockout Cup Q/F 2nd Leg

EASTBOURNE advanced into the semi finals of the Elite League Knockout Cup in this halved encounter with Lakeside at the Arena Raceway.

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The home side were left chasing a 12 points deficit following a reverse down at Arlington the previous evening having lost former Eagle Adam Shields in his second race.

Team boss Jon Cook booked in the talents of Coventry’s Edward Kennett - a former Eagle - in as as guest replacement, since the team was also missing Jonas Davidsson. What the home side needed, though, was a quick start and it was the opposition was reacted quicker, extending their lead in the opening two races.

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Matej Zagar and Lukas Dryml hit the front in the operning race for a shock 5-1 over new full time signings Lee Richardson and Peter Ljung. Dryml then completed a dream start by trapping in the second race to lead home Chris Neath as Ricky Kling took advantage of a Stuart Robson 4-2.

With the Eagles now holding an 18 points aggregate, the home side needed a quick response - but found the Eagles in determined, defensive mood as they stubborning fought to maintain their advantage. The Sussex men took the next two race winners - guest Lewis Bridger and ex-Hammer Kling - whilst Kennett fell in heat five to leave Kauko Nieminen to share another race as the number of remaining heats continued to reduce.

Nieminen was back out in heat six to partner Richardson to a 4-2 but the heat advantages couldn’t come quick enough for the Hammers as the Eagles filled the minor placings behind Peter Ljung in the next heat. Richardson’s rider replacement outing at the turn did help yield an advantage, though, and the Hammers appeared to emerge better for it in the next few races.

It was a brace of 5-1 advantages that started to stir the home faithful as first Kennett and Nieminen, then Kennett and Richardson, slammed home maximums to wipe eight points off of the Eagles’ lead and pull the home side to within just six points. Eastbourne, though, held firm through a Zagar lead 4-2 in the eleventh race before the killer blow came in heat twelve as Nieminen appeared to drop a chain on the first corner to leave Dryml and Simon Gustafsson to cruise home for a 5-1 and a seemingly unassailable aggregate lead.

The end came when Bridger and Kling hit a 5-1 over Kennett in heat 14 to make the overall victory mathematically certain, leaving the Hammers to salvage some pride with a Richardson/Ljung 4-2 in the final race to secure a draw on the night after Zagar had touched the tapes.

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