Eastbourne Speedway open up huge lead over Leicester Lions after first leg success
Eastbourne Speedway thrashed Leicester Lions 57-33 on Sunday to move a step closer to reaching the Championship Knock-out Cup Semi finals.
The second leg is being held at the East Midlands club's Paul Chapman and Sons Arena on Friday, after the first was held at Eastbourne's Arlington Stadium, and with Eastbourne taking a 24-point lead into the clash, the odds are well in their favour.
Eastbourne caught Leicester at a very good time in the first leg of the semi final, with the visitors in the middle of an injury crisis as two heat leaders, Richie Worrall and Josh Bates, both missed out, forcing the Lions to find replacements.
Initially, on Sunday, Leicester Lions battled well and stayed in touch with Eastbourne's points tally, but as the slim resources began to fade, the Eagles took advantage and built up a lead that would see them move out of reach of their opponents on the day.
Three consecutive 5-1 heat wins for Eastbourne opened up a big lead and left the Lions in the dust, paving the way for the hosts to open up that huge 24-point lead.
The race of the season so far at Arlington came in heat seven when Hailsham-based Edward Kennett duelled with Leicester's Australian rider Ryan Douglas.
First, the Eastbourne captain came from nowhere to speed past Douglas on the third turn, only to drift wide and lose the lead. Kennett fought back again however, fooling his opponent into thinking he would attack him on the outside, only to dive inside at the last moment to take the lead, which he managed to hold until the flag.
Rider of the day, Georgie Wood, scored 15 points for Eastbourne Speedway as they ended the first leg with a comfortable lead, and joint team manager Will Pottinger urged his team to deliver at an away track in the second leg on Friday, something that has proven incredibly difficult for the Eagles so far this season.
Pottinger said: "He (Wood) has proved now that he can do it. What he has to do now is start scoring points away from home.
"If we cannot defend a 24-point lead, obviously we do not deserve to go through. We have given ourselves a really good chance and we have to go there on Friday and try and get off to a really good start and make sure we can contain Leicester.
"We will see what happens on Friday but we have given ourselves a good opportunity."