A fantastic performance from the Eagles took them to the brink of victory at Birmingham’s Perry Barr stadium on Wednesday evening.
But in the final reckoning, they couldn’t prevent the local Brummies from securing a narrow 48-46 victory, though the Sussex effort was at least sufficient to prevent the hosts from hitting top spot in the Elite League table.
Indeed, had it not been for a veritable mid meeting collapse, Birmingham outscoring their visitors by a 19-5 margin between heats seven to ten, the reward might even have been greater.
Skipper Cameron Woodward, fresh from his World Cup Final exploits, was undoubtedly the heavy hitter for the Sussex side with a superb paid 17-point return, however each of the Eagles found a moment to shine though on balance there might have been times when each could have done better.
The Eagles kept the Brummies guessing for the first six heats, the teams all square at 18-points apiece following the first half dozen, however it was the Brummies who looked to be heading to the top of the table following that dominant spell, the scores standing at 37-23 after heat ten.
The writing seemed on the wall and the fat lady may well have been gargling but successive 5-3’s in heats 11 and 12 preceded back to back 5-1’s.
The first of these being awarded after an over-zealous pass by Chris Harris left Bjarne Pedersen taking route one into the air fence - and suddenly it was the Eastbourne fans celebrating, a travelling point already in the bag and staring, almost unbelievably, at a last heat decider.
In the event it was local hero Martin Smolinski who enhanced his credentials further, keeping both Pedersen and Woodward at bay in a titanic last race to win the day for the Brummies by almost the narrowest of margins.
Brummies : Martin Smolinski 10+1(5), Nico Covatti 8+1(5), Ben Barker 7(4), Danny King 7(4), Jason Doyle 6+1(4), Chris Harris 6(5), Josh Auty 4+1(3). - 48
Eagles : Cameron Woodward 16+1(6), Bjarne Pedersen 9+2(5), Simon Gustafsson 8(5), Timo Lahti 6+2(6), Kim Nilsson 6+1(5), Kyle Newman (Guest for Denis Gizatullin) 1(3), Rider Replacement for Lukas Dryml. – 46