Eastbourne Eagles severely dented their Elite League play-off hopes after a disappointing 55-36 defeat at at basement side Belle Vue on Monday.
The Eagles needed to pick up points on the road in order to keep their hopes of finishing in the top four alive, the visit to Manchester was largely viewed as their best chance of securing points with the injury ravaged Aces having enjoyed just three wins all season.
In the event it was to prove the Manchester men who came out fighting as they handed the Sussex side, for whom only Denis Gizatullin really showed any kind of form, a lesson in gating and everything else as they ran out deserving 19-point winners.
Indeed the home side even managed to cope with the mid meeting loss of number one Rory Schlein who aggravated an injury following a fall with visiting skipper Cameron Woodward in heat 10.
It was to prove something of an inglorious start to proceedings for the Sussex side with the Belle Vue riders leaving the starting tapes side by side with each of the Eagles duo trailing in their wake.
Rory Schlein took an untroubled win and though Mark Lemon had to work hard, he used all his track craft to keep Timo Lahti at bay for an opening 5-1 to the Aces. The worrying sight however for any travelling fans was that of Joonas Kylmakorpi well to the rear of the field.
Eastbourne fortunes continued on the downward spiral in the penultimate race as Woodward looped on the back straight and took a tumble.
With the Sussex skipper disqualified this effectively summed up Eastbourne’s night and when Gafurov and Grajczonek combined for Aces fourth 5-1 of proceedings in the rerun, this finally took them past the 50-point mark.
Certainly it hadn’t been the best of night’s for the Sussex side, one not improved as play-off rivals Lakeside’s picked up a match point in losing 47-43 at Wolverhampton.
Aces: Mark Lemon 9+2(5), Artur Mroczka 9(5), Renat Gafurov 8+1(4), Josh Grajczonek 8+1(5), Patrick Hougaard 8(4), Rory Schlein 7(3), Ales Dryml 6(4). – 55
Eagles: Denis Gizatullin 13(7), Lewis Bridger 7+1(5), Cameron Woodward 5(4), Joonas Kylmakorpi 4+1(4), Simon Gustafsson 4+1(4), Timo Lahti 2(3), Lukas Dryml 1(3). – 36