Speedway: Eastbourne Eagles topple Kent Kings to reach KO Cup final

Georgie Wood top scored for the Eagles
Georgie Wood top scored for the Eagles

Eastbourne moved into the final of the National League KO Cup for the fourth time in four years at Arlington Saturday (September 30).

They overcame a dogged Kent Kings side who threatened to cause a huge upset.

The second leg tie began with the scores locked at 45-45 after the first leg at Central Park.

And it was the Kings who struck first with a 4-2 – Georige Wood pulling up on a borrowed motor after his woes the night before when riding as a guest for Kent at Mildenhall.

Ethan Spiller and and Charlie Brooks helped ease the Forman IT Eagles in front with a well taken 5-1 in the next.

Then followed a game of cat and mouse.

Heat 5 saw the visitors go back in front with a 5-1 only for the Eagles to claw back the deficit in the next.

As the match approached the interval, Eastbourne struck a vital blow.

In the first running of heat ten, both Wood and Kent’s Nathan Stoneman fell.

Referee Paul Carrignton ordered all four back and in the re-run Wood and Jason Edwards got the drop to take a 5-1.

A ‘half-time’ team talk and frenzied work on the bikes saw the Eagles come out rejuvenated and they seized control of the tie.

The prospect of “golden heats” (there are no replays) was put to bed in heat 13.

Drew Kemp, guesting for Kent, was off like a scaled cat from the tapes but Tom Brennan was in hot pursuit and Wood not far behind.

Brennan piled on the pressure and Kemp made an error as he locked up on the pits bend, losing vital momentum.

The Eagles’ teenager swept past and into the lead.

Wood needed no second asking to join the party and quickly closed on Kemp, sweeping underneath him as they came out of the fourth bend.

The resulting home 5-1 gave Eastbourne the tie, all barring two freak results in heats 14 and 15.

As the riders returned to the pits, a melee broke out involving riders and mechanics from both teams.

The ruckus was quickly quietened but referee Paul Carrington went to the pits to “read the riot act”.

He called the riders and officials to an impromptu centregreen meeting for a dressing down, telling the riders: “You are racers, not fighters”.

With order restored, Eastbourne put the tie safely to bed with another 5-1, this time from Spiller and Charley Powell in heat 14 as the Eagles went on to win the leg 52-38 for an aggregate victory of 97 - 83.

Eastbourne will face Mildenhall in the final.

Eastbourne captain Mark Baseby, admitted Kent had pushed the Eagles all the way in the semi-final.

“We didn’t make it that easy but, look, we got the result. That’s what counts.

“We are team that works well under pressure and I think that showed tonight, so, give us some more pressure.”

EASTBOURNE 52: Georgie Wood 11+1, Tom Brennan 9, Ethan Spiller 7+3, Jason Edwards 7+1, Mark Baseby 7, Charlie Brooks 6+2, Charley Powell 5+3.

KENT 38: Drew Kemp 12, Jack Thomas 9+1, Nathan Stoneman 8, Anders Rowe 6+1, Alex Spooner 2, Taylor Hampshire 1, Jamie Couzins 0.

Eastbourne win 97-83 on aggregate.