Eastbourne ‘Lifestyle’ Eagles return clash with the Lakeside Hammers exploded into controversy on Good Friday evening, writes Kevin Ling.
A contentious double disqualification of Peter Karlsson and home captain Cameron Woodward in heat 13 by referee Chris Gay saw the highly-charged reach boiling point.
In the final countdown, Eastbourne took the honours by a 48-42 margin to earn themselves two Elite League points but the events of heat 13 left the home team fuming.
Karlsson and Woodward were put back 15 metres in heat 13 following separate starting misdemeanours.
The scores were poised at 39-33 in favour of the Sussex sidewhen Karlsson rode into the starting tapes earning himself an immediate penalty.
While this drew joyous acclaim from the home fans sensing an opportunity for their side, the delight was quickly muted as the official also ruled out Woodward for moving at the start; the rider having previously been warned for doing similar in heat five.
The Eastbourne rider’s disqualification drew angry responses from the club’s management and supporters alike, the chances of maximum points from the race, and the prospect of moving them further clear of their rivals having been eroded somewhat with Woodward, as well as Karlsson being moved back the 15 metres.
Emotions were running high as the riders lined up again in staggered formation for the restart of heat thirteen and while Joonas Kylmakorpi got the drop on Hammers’ top scorer Lewis Bridger to secure his third win of the night, Woodward was unable to get the better of Karlsson, thus leaving the margin at 6-points, 42-36 with just two races remaining, the Eagle pulling up after losing control on the second lap.
Indeed, the situation at that point might have been even gloomier for the hosts had lively Lakeside reserve Adam Ellis not suffered an engine failure while holding a maximum point position with the equally impressive Richard Lawson.
Mikkel Michelsen steadied the ship with a win in the penultimate race, thus safeguarding the home 6-point advantage but hopes that Eagles might extend the margin were dashed as Danny Halsey took a tumble mid race to end an otherwise notable performance on an unfortunate note.
With the scores standing at 45-39 heading into the final race, despite the match having already been won Eastbourne knew that only a heat advantage would suffice as they sought to avenge a 55-41 defeat from their afternoon visit to Purfleet./
It would claim the three-point reward to not only aid their push at the top of the table but also to maintain their perfect record of having claimed maximum points from the three home meetings so far contested.
Though Bjarne Pedersen remained cool under pressure, winning out in that last race to conclude a superb 14-point performance and give the Eagles a sight of the prize, unfortunately Kylmakorpi couldn’t demonstrate similar dash./
He trailed Bridger and Karlsson throughout, the difference remaining at the half dozen mark, thus setting the final scores at 48-42 – two Elite League points earned for the Sussex side but not the three that they desperately hoped for.
Eagles: Bjarne Pedersen 14(5), Joonas Kylmakorpi 10+1(5), Mikkel Michelsen 8(4), Danny Halsey 7+1(5), Timo Lahti 6(4), Cameron Woodward 2+1(4), Ben Hopwood (Guest for Lewis Blackbird) 1(3). – 48
Hammers: Lewis Bridger 13(6), Richard Lawson 9+2(5), Adam Ellis 8+1(6), Peter Karlsson 5+3(5), Davey Watt 5(4), Ben Morley 2+1(4), Rider Replacement for Mikkel Bech. - 42