‘Don’t take anything for granted’ is the stark warning issued by Eastbourne Eagles team boss, Connor Dugard, ahead of tonight’s (13 May) home match against Stoke.
He’s telling his team to be on their guard against the resurgent team from the Potteries, who stunned defending league champions, Birmingham last weekend with a narrow 46-44 victory on their home track.
Dugard said supporters and riders alike should not look at the fixture list and see Stoke and, “I think, we’ll be all right. All we have to do is turn up and we’ll get the points. People may remember our big win at home last year and think it will be the same again.
“That’s far from the truth. Already this season the Potters have shown a real fighting spirit and a never-say-die attitude which is bringing them success.
“If we’re not on our game, they will be among us and capitalise on errors and silly mistakes. This year’s Stoke team looks a different proposition.
“In many ways, it’s a similar situation to last week when Mildenhall visited Arlington. We had seen them off easily in 2016 but they clung on to our coat tails all the way last Saturday and could, with a bit of luck, caused an upset. It could be the same again this week.
“I have told the team I need total concentration, maximum effort and their machinery well prepared. We just cannot afford to give away silly points.”
Mitchell Davey is proving a potent No 1 for Stoke and is supported by the free-scoring Luke Priest, who is always a handful at Arlington, and the evergreen Tony Atkin.
Dugard has drafted former Eagle Ben Hopwood into the team as a guest replacement for Connor Coles, who is on duty for his senior club, Newcastle.
Eastbourne: Mark Baseby, Kelsey Dugard, Ben Hopwood, Mattie Bates, Georgie Wood, Charley Powell, Tom Brennan.