By GAVIN CANEY, Sports Reporter
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
King’s Lynn Stars take to their Norfolk Arena track tonight with Rob Lyon giving his riders an ultimatum: Anything less than three points is not good enough.
The Stars’ Elite League play-off hopes are hanging by a thread with only a handful of fixtures remaining and a host of victories by seven points or more look likely to be needed to gatecrash the top four for the second season running.
With his side sitting seventh, Lyon knows his troops must really take maximum points from this evening’s clash against basement boys Belle Vue Aces to keep their play-off hopes alive.
The Lynn team boss said: “If we don’t get three points tonight then, no disrespect to Belle Vue but we don’t deserve to make the play-offs.
“It’s pretty vital we get three points, even if reaching the play-offs isn’t the be all and end all.
It’s important because it gives the club fresh impetuous towards the end of the season, draws big crowds, and gives the fans some excitement.
“But it’s not the be all and end all of everybody’s season in the wider scheme of things. It would be nice to achieve reaching the play-offs again though and we need to keep ourselves in the hunt.
“We’ve been written off already but anything can happen in speedway and while we still have a chance to achieve our aim of reaching the top four we will certainly keep fighting.”
Just seven points separate Eastbourne – who currently hold the last play-off spot – and Lynn, although sixth-placed Birmingham have ridden three times less than both clubs, and fifth-placed Peterborough.
The Stars’ improved home form should stand them in good stead tonight as they are unbeaten on their own shale since May. And they’ve already enjoyed maximum points wins over the struggling Aces at home and away this campaign.
However, in-form number one Niels-Kristian Iversen and Maciej Janowski will miss the visit of the Manchester outfit tonight.
While Janowski’s absence – due to competing in the Polish championships – leaves Lynn operating rider/replacement again, Iversen’s omission through a knee injury is perhaps less of a blow.
His place will be taken by a guest, much to the delight of Lyon, as arguably the most in-form British rider Tai Woffinden dons Stars’ colours for the night.
Lyon said: “In speedway you can’t vouch for injuries. Niels has hurt his knee and it’s one of those things. I’m pretty confident Tai will do a good job for us in his place.
“I’m sure plenty of Lynn fans are looking forward to seeing him ride for us. He’s an exciting rider, a Brit, and he’s done really well for Wolverhampton and in Poland.
“It’s perhaps more of a blow to be missing Magic (Janowski) but we’ve covered for him on rider/replacement two or three times and coped well. I’m sure now we’ve had a run of home meetings and riders like Mat (Szczepaniak) have got used to our track, we can do the same again.”
Belle Vue have won just three of their 19 meetings this season but do arrive at Saddlebow Road with Rory Schlein in their line-up. The Australian scored 11 points at Lynn last week riding in Stars colours as a guest for Iversen against Eastbourne.
But Lyon insists he is not worried about any inside track knowledge Schlein can pass on to his team-mates ahead of this evening’s tapes up.
“Rory scored well for us last week and I’m sure he’s passed on some information to his team-mates about us and the track,” said Lyon.
“But it’s out track, our home venue, and our riders should be used to what they will be facing here tonight.
“Like I’ve said, if we focus on ourselves, and get rid of some of our almost consistent inconsistencies, I can’t see a reason why we shouldn’t take home all three league points.”
King’s Lynn: 1 Tai Woffinden (guest), 2 Ulrich Ostergaard, 3 Rider/Replacement, 4 Mads Korneliussen, 5 Daniel Nermark, 6 Kevin Wolbert, 7 Mateusz Szczepaniak
Belle Vue: 1 Rory Schlein, 2 Craig Cook, 3 Patrick Hougaard, 4 Mark Lemon, 5 Artur Mroczka, 6 Ales Dryml, 7 Renat Gafurov.
Gates open at 6pm with the parade at 7.30pm. Racing starts at 7.45pm.