Eastbourne Eagles’ manager Trevor Geer was left bursting with pride after his side recorded their second win in three days with victory over Belle Vue Aces.
The Eagles turned around a ten-point deficit to take the points with a 47-45 final lead thanks, in large part, to a second consecutive exceptional performance from Timo Lahti.
Geer said, “I couldn’t be more proud of every one of the lads tonight and as for Timo (Lahti) and yet another match winning performance, well I think we truly have a star in the making.
“For a time it appeared that the Aces might hold all the cards and having gone 10-points up, there was a possibly that they might have run away with things.
“But the lads got their heads down, got stuck in and thanks to that stunning run of 5-1’s in the closing stages, that is what saw us through.
“Seriously, I couldn’t be more delighted.”
The home side looked to be heading to victory as they amassed a 10-point advantage by the conclusion of heat six courtesy of maximum points inspired by their own guest Chris Harris.
However, it was the Eagles, fueled largely by Lahti’s input, who knuckled down and won the day thanks to a glorious trio of 5-1’s in heats 12, 13 and 14.
The Lifestyle Eagles traveled to Belle Vue’s Kirkmanshulme Lane stadium on Monday evening with Mads Korneliussen of King’s Lynn as a guest rider in place of Joonas Kylmakorpi.
The Aces opened with a 4-2 with guest Chris Harris blasting around the outside of Eagles own stand in, Mads Korneliussen, on the run in to lap two to take an untroubled win. Meanwhile, Ales was destined to win the battle of the Dryml’s, the Czech Republican comfortably outpacing brother Lukas to record an early advantage for the home side.
Heat 2 and misfortune was set to strike the Sussex side, Denis Gizatullin sliding off on the second turn to necessitate a race stoppage, partner Timo Lahti doing well to lay his bike down to avoid running into his fallen colleague.
At the second time of asking Lahti nipped sharply through on the inside of Australian Josh Grajczonek down the first lap back straight but was unable to make any inroads on Linus Eklof’s early lead, a second successive 4-2 to the Manchester men seeing them lead 8-4.
Patrick Hougaard was an all the way winner of race three but Eagles Simon Gustafsson and Cameron Woodward ensured that the distance between the teams would not increase as they tucked in neatly behind the Dane, defying the every attempt of Pole Artur Mroczka to get on terms.
Four-points still the difference and that was how it remained as Lahti, the hero of Eagles home win against Swindon at the weekend, posted a gate to flag victory in the fastest time of the night so far.
Unfortunately, Lewis Bridger was unable to match the Finn’s pace and trailed the field throughout, Aces Charlie Gjedde taking second place ahead of team mate Grajczonek for a further 3-3 that moved the scores to 14-10 in favour of the hosts.
The 4-point margin extended to the half dozen mark as Belle Vue secured a third 4-2 in heat five. Again Korneliussen was sharp from the start but this time it was Mroczka who was that little bit sharper, the Pole keeping the Eastbourne guest at bay throughout the four laps.
Hougaard remained in third with Lukas Dryml again struggling at the rear of the field, the scoreline moving to 18-12.
The Aces then took a giant stride towards a first win of the season as Harris and Ales Dryml combined for a big 5-1 to stretch their advantage to double figures, 23-13 in heat six.
Harris took control of the race from the off with his Czech Republican partner close on his heels. Bridger’s attempts to get on terms were destined to end in disaster as he took a tumble on the second lap leaving Gizatullin to give fruitless chase to the home pair.
Still the Eagles refused to lay down however and although Gjedde was set to take the win in heat seven, emerging clear of the field following a rather robust second bend, the visitors would take a 5-3 advantage from the race as Gustafsson, sporting the black and white helmet signifying a tactical ride, rode home in second with Eastbourne skipper Woodward following in third ahead of Eklof to narrow the margin to 8-points, 26-18 once more.
The Eagles further eroded the difference in the next as Lahti posted a second seemingly untroubled win, this time at the expense of Ales Dryml. This time the elder Dryml had to look lively to remain ahead of brother Lukas who battled past Grajczonek in the early part and then maintained pressure on his sibling for the remainder of the course.
Nevertheless it had proved a second successive advantage to the visitors, the scores narrowing to 6-points 28-22 with Eagles far from out of the contest.
Bridger rediscovered the winning touch in race nine, a fast start seeing him outpace Hougaard and Mroczka to secure a share of the spoils, the resultant 3-3 seeing the 6-point disparity, now 31-25 remain in place.
The Aces were set to exert further control on the contest however as they secure a fourth 4-2 from the ten races so far ridden, Harris again coming from the back to deny early race leader Woodward in heat ten.
With Gustafsson suffering a fall on the first bend of lap three, Ales Dryml was gifted third place and with it, the heat advantage, one that saw the scores move to 35-27 with just five races remaining on the card.
A tapes offence for Gjedde at the start of heat eleven offered Eastbourne a lifeline, one that they gratefully exploited though maybe not to the extent that they would have liked. It was announced that the Dane would go off the 15 metre handicap mark but having failed to beat the two minute time allowance, it ensured that only three riders would make it back to the start line.
Eklof seemed set to upset the Eastbourne apple cart as he led from the start but Korneliussen was to prove the hero of the moment for the visitors as he scorched past the Aces reserve heading into the final lap. Try though he might, Lahti was unable to mimic that manoeuvre and he followed on in third place, the 4-2 again narrowing the scoreline to 6-points, now 37-31.
Eagles might have hope for further rewards from the twelfth as Gustafsson and Lahti lined up alongside Mroczka and Grajczonek. However, that wasn’t how events looked set to pan out as the Pole hit the front only to be joined by his partner who found a way past the Finn entering lap two, leaving Gustafsson stranded at the back.
Fortune was destined to favour the Sussex side as Mroczka lifted and fell, thankfully remaining uninjured, coming out of turn two, necessitating a further race stoppage.
This time, the Eagles duo would take control and full advantage of the situation, Gustafsson and Lahti leaving the tapes side by side to deny Grajczonek and slash the difference to just 2-points, 38-36 with just three races remaining.
Much depended on the outcome of heat thirteen and although the Eagles duo were set to get the drop on their opponents the race was quickly called to a halt as Harris lost control and took a nasty tumble heading into the first bend.
The Team G.B. rider was duly disqualified handing the impetus back to the visitors and they weren’t destined to disappoint as Korneliussen led from the outset with Bridger coming through to join him, having demonstrated a superb outside pass of Gjedde on the approach to the final lap.
The 5-1 saw the Eagles lead for the first time on the night, the Aces slender 2-point advantage being mirrored to one in favour of the Sussex side, the scores now standing at 41-39 with just two races left on the card.
Indeed, jubilation was just about to be unleashed amongst the visiting contingent as Lahti capped a fantastic performance throughout the night by teaming up with Woodward for not only a third successive maximum 5-1 for the Sussex side but also the one that secured overall victory and a guaranteed three Elite League points.
Indeed, the Eastbourne duo had hit the front in the initial running of heat fourteen but with little explanation forthcoming, the race was called to a halt, an unsatisfactory start being cited.
It was to matter little however, and as the tapes rose for a second time it was Lahti and Woodward who again established control, leading all the way from the chasing Hougaard and Eklof to wrap up the match for the Sussex outfit.
Korneliussen was an early leader of the final race but his advantage was to be shortlived, Gjedde and Harris blasting past before the end of lap one to have the last word for the Aces, the 5-1, their second of the match reducing the final margin to just 2-points, 47-45 in favour of the victorious Eastbourne ‘Lifestyle’ Eagles.
The victory cements Eastbourne’s position in second in the Elite League table.
Aces : Chris Harris (Guest for Rory Schlein) 11+1(5), Charlie Gjedde 9(5), Patrick Hougaard 7(4), Ales Dryml 6+1(4), Linus Eklof 5(4), Artur Mroczka 4+1(4), Josh Grajczonek 3+1(4),. – 45
Eagles : Timo Lahti 16(7), Mads Korneliussen (Guest for Joonas Kylmakorpi) 10(5), Simon Gustafsson 8+1(4), Cameron Woodward 6+3(4), Lewis Bridger 5+1(4), Lukas Dryml 1(3), Denis Gizatullin 1(3). – 47