Familiar faces return for Brummies test

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EASTBOURNE Eagles pick up the reins of their Elite League campaign and quest for the play-offs when the Birmingham Brummies visit Arlington Stadium tomorrow evening (Saturday), with tapes up at 7.30pm.

With the best part of a month having elapsed since their last Arlington encounter, a 51-39 success over the Lakeside Hammers, the Eagles riders will no doubt need some re-acquainting with their home circuit.

However they face the fixture against the Brummies with confidence following a solid performance in their most recent outing, a crushing 52-38 win at Coventry’s Brandon Stadium a fortnight ago.

Currently, the East Sussex outfit sit fourth in the Elite League table and in the mix for September’s play-offs.

Yet the Brummies will be eyeing the Eagles present ranking with envy and, armed with some impressive results of their own, especially away from their Perry Barr home, they are regarded as potential play-off contenders.

Last year, the Eagles held the upper hand over the Midlands outfit, with a 66-24 drubbing at Arlington last April followed up with a 49-43 success in Birmingham last July.

However, they are seemingly cut from different cloth this season, as results such as a mammoth 57-33 victory at Belle Vue and an impressive 10-point (50-40) win at Coventry in recent weeks will testify.

A familiar face will come to tapes in heat one tomorrow night.

Dane Bjarne Pedersen, who rode at number one for Eastbourne last term, and who played a large part in reaching the play-off final now performs a similar role for Birmingham having made the winter switch from the Sussex countryside to the second city.

Certainly Pedersen’s in-depth knowledge of the Sussex circuit should prove invaluable to the visitors but he is just one of an array of proven performers resplendent within the Brummies ranks.

Captain Daniel King has shown good form throughout the current campaign, recognised with a recent call up for the Great Britain squad for their World Cup campaign.

Young guns Ben Barker and Josh Auty are widely regarded as international stars of the future and both are capable of scoring big points on any given day.

One man in the Birmingham line up assured of a warm Arlington welcome will be Sebastian Ulamek.

The Pole produced a 12-point performance at Brandon as a guest replacement for Joonas Kylmakorpi and four race wins that proved crucial in Eagles’ 14-point success over the Bees.

Completing the Brummies septet are another Pole Tomasz Piszcz and German Martin Smolinski, both experienced performers who possess the credentials to cause the Eagles problems.

Despite a recent spell of apparent inactivity, the Sussex side now face a sustained run of fixtures with visits to both Peterborough and Swindon, and a home match against the King’s Lynn Stars all scheduled for the coming week.

With that in mind, they would regard a handsome home win over the Brummies as the ideal springboard for an Elite League play-off place.

Eagles: 1. Joonas Kylmakorpi, 2. Lukas Dryml, 3. Simon Gustafsson, 4. Cameron Woodward (Captain), 5. Lewis Bridger, 6. Denis Gizatullin, 7. Timo Lahti.

Brummies: 1. Bjarne Pedersen, 2. Martin Smolinski, 3. Daniel King (Captain), 4. Ben Barker, 5. Sebastian Ulamek, 6. Tomasz Piszcz, 7. Josh Auty.