Eagles cling on to win after a late attack from Panthers

Lukas Dryml and Jesper Monberg
Lukas Dryml and Jesper Monberg

Eastbourne Eagles withstood a late barrage from the visitors to take two Elite League points at Arlington Stadium on Saturday evening.

The Eagles looked to be cruising to a comfortable win after amassing a 14-point (38-24) lead on conclusion of heat 10.

However, a dramatic turnaround, sparked largely by a superlative debut performance at the venue by Michael Jepsen Jensen, together with the trackcraft of the vastly experienced Kenneth Bjerre, saw the Panthers whittle away the Eagles’ advantage to just three-points (40-37) with just three races left on the cards.

Jensen combined with Bjerre to secure a big 8-1 in the 11th and then maximum points as the Danish youngster teamed up with former Eagle Oliver Allen in heat 12 to put the visitors in sight of what would have proved a shock win.

Eastbourne concerns deepened as guest Edward Kennett took a nasty tumble, sustaining a suspected broken shoulder in heat 13 as Eagles looked to be on course for a 4-2.

Fears that Peterborough might capitalise on that misfortune in the restart were allayed.

Lewis Bridger nipped sharply from the start to lead a second time and head both Bjerre and Linus Sundstrom to the chequered flag to keep the home advantage intact.

The Arlington mood lightened further as Denis Gizatullin and Cameron Woodward shared an impressive 5-1 at the expense of Jepsen Jensen in the penultimate race to put their side seven points (48-41) to the good once more.

But hopes of Trevor Geer’s men claiming all three points evaporated as Bjerre led Bridger home in the last while Sundstrom got the better of Lukas Dryml, who had previously remained unbeaten by an opponent, for a closing 4-2.

One that ensured a final 50-45 scoreline and earned the Panthers some reward for their efforts.

Eagles Co-promoter and Team Manager Geer admitted being pleased at his side taking the win but expressed some disappointment at not wrapping up all three match points.

He said, “After being 14 points up at one stage it proved to be a bit of a comedown that we didn’t take maximum points from the match.

“We looked to be cruising but the Panthers made good use of their tactical rides, particularly the 8-1 in heat 11 and for a time we started to look vulnerable.

“We had a couple of riders below par this evening, Simon (Gustafsson), though alright injury-wise, came back from Sweden on Thursday with a fever and has been in bed ever since, getting up only for tonight’s match.

“The important thing is that the lads dug in and held on for the win. Three points would have been the icing on the cake but we won the match, that’s the main thing.”

ABOVE POLE POSITION: Eagles’ Polish rider Lukas Dryml powers ahead of Peterborough’s Jesper Monberg at Arlington Stadium on Saturday night.