Eastbourne Eagles prepare for biggest battle of the season

Connor Dugard
Connor Dugard

Eastbourne Speedway face their biggest National League battle of the season  on Saturday (September 22) when runaway league leaders Mildenhall come to Arlington Stadium.

The Forman IT Eagles go into the match safe in the knowledge that only an out-of-the-blue event can dislodge them from one of the four end-of-season Play Off places.

The run in to the cut-off date on Sunday night has been fraught for many clubs, including Eastbourne. The Sussex club lost two matches to the weather earlier this month, at Stoke and Buxton.

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Other contenders have been similarly affected and it means some regular-season fixtures are still to be raced.

The speedway promoters’ press office confirmed this week that the cut-off date remains unchanged.

As things stand on Wednesday (September 19) morning the table is:

Mildenhall 54pts

Eastbourne 34pts

Kent 34pts

Coventry 31pts

Birmingham 30pts

Matches affecting the top places this week:

Saturday: Eastbourne v Mildenhall

Sunday: Mildenhall v Birmingham

Sunday: Buxton v Kent

As things stand, Coventry cannot add to their points tally, Kent could add four and Eastbourne three.

Birmingham, in theory could get four points – however, Mildenhall have not lost a league match at home this season.

The Second City Club would also need to win by a huge score, and the Eagles lose in similar fashion, for the Brummies to jump above them.

On the face of it, all clear cut and the Eagles are in the Play-Offs.

But the speedaygb press office said fixtures can be arranged the day before they are due to be held, if both clubs agree.

It means some late additions could be made which could change the picture altogether.

However, when the Eagles go to tapes on Saturday night they will know exactly what the position is.

Team manager Connor Dugard said: “Mildenhall have led from the front all season. However, we are one of the few teams to beat them season.

We’ve improved a lot since that 50-39 National Trophy win in June and I am confident of more success on Saturday night.

“Our aim all year long has been to make the Play-Offs. Once there, all four clubs have an equal chance of taking the title. We’re in it to win it.”

Mark Baseby misses the match (and the first leg of the KO Cup semi-final at Kent on Monday) because of a pre-booked holiday.

Teams: Eastbourne: Georgie Wood, Jason Wood, Mark Baseby R/R, Charley Powell, Tom Brennan, Ethan Spiller, Charlie Brooks, No 8 TBA

Mildenhall: Ben Morley, Josh Bailey R/R, Ryan Kinsley, Jordan Kenkins, Drew Kemp, Matt Marson, Sam Bebee

Saturday’s timetable:

6.45pm Junior Races

7.30pm Eastbourne Forman IT Eagles v Mildenhall Fen Tigers

About 9pm Reading v Isle of Wight, Southern Development League

Golden Programme ticket: A “golden” ticket will be placed in one of the programmes on sale for Saturday’s meeting. It will be worth £50 in cash to the ticket holder – the money to be presented during the interval or after heat 15.