The Eastbourne Eagles hold a 13-point advantage after the first leg of the National League Grand Final.
They beat Birmingham 50-37 at Arlington last night (23 October) to take the lead into the second leg at the Brummies’ track on Wednesday (26 October).
The IT First Eagles started disastrously and conceded a 3-0 in heat win after No 1 Adam Ellis fell while leading by a country mile. His partner Charley Powell was also excluded.
Things went from bad to worse as they conceded a 4-2 in the second race.
The Eagles clawed their way back into the match and by the half-way stage had a three-point lead.
Four heat wins by a 4-2 margin in the last four races helped the Eagles ease away from Birmingham to give themselves a fighting chance in the second leg.
Club chairman Martin Dugard said, “I think the two teams shared the bad luck but that’s what speedway is all about. It is about getting up and dealing with it, and that’s what the boys did.
He admitted he was tenterhooks “like everybody else in the stadium” after the first two races.
“They are the best team in the league. That’s why they have beaten everybody. “I think we have shown we can match them but whether it will be good enough, only time will tell.”
Dugard said the track conditions caught the home riders out in the opening races.
A huge quantity of sawdust was put down the previous week after a deluge hit the stadium just before race time.
He said it made the track patchy, “It was raceable and the times were very quick. Adam Ellis just caught got out. He was virtually half a lap in front when he fell off.”
Dugard praised the team’s fightback and said they were not prepared to be beaten on their own track.
“I think it has shown everybody how powerful we are at home,” he said.
He said if the tables were turned and it was Birmingham coming to Eastbourne with a 13-point lead, he would be concerned.
“If I was them I would be feeling under pressure. We are the underdogs, always have been. Everybody rates us as underdogs. We are doing well.”
Top scorer Georgie Wood said it was a pretty nerve-wracking meeting, “The adrenalin has been pumping pretty much since I swung my leg over the bike, he said.
“We got the win and that’s the important thing. We dropped a few silly points here and there but we have won.
“We have tried our hardest.
“The track caught me out. You couldn’t ride it as hard as you wanted. It was a little bit patchy. You had to take a step back and think about your moves.
“I wanted to go harder and harder and harder but it gets to a point where you have to accept the limits. If you were behind you had to monitor their riding and wait for a mistake.
“I ran it wide round the fence a few times because that’s the only way I thought I could pass.”
EASTBOURNE 50: Georgie Wood 12+1, Adam Ellis 12, Jake Knight 9, Ellis Perks 8, Tom Brennan 7+1, Charley Powell 2+1, Gary Cottham r/r.
BIRMINGHAM 37: Jack Parkinson-Blackburn 9+1, Tom Bacon 8+1, James Shanes 8, Jack Smith 6, Tom Perry 4+1, Darryl Ritchings 2, Danyon Hume r/r.