Eastbourne 45, King’s Lynn 48
King's Lynn co-promoter Jonathan Chapman saluted the patched-up Stars after a battling Elite League revenge mission at leaders Eastbourne.
Rob Lyon's men travelled to Arlington still smarting from a three point defeat at Saddlebow which wrecked their unbeaten top flight home record and with key men missing through injury and unavailability.
Lynn skipper Olly Allen was ruled out of the trip after failing to recover from the dislocated shoulder injury suffered in his first ride of the Eastbourne home meeting last week. Danish second string Niels-Kristian Iversen was also on domestic duty but Lynn were hit with a fresh injury blow on Friday night when compatriot Mads Korneliussen was injured on a guest booking for Wolverhampton in their defeat at Coventry.
The Stars drafted in old boy Kevin Doolan and Belle Vue's Rory Schlein who posted a decisive paid 13 return with fellow guest Josh Auty (paid eight) offering solid reserve support and doubling up Aussie Sam Masters impressive again in the Stars' race jacket.
Lynn's 'against-the-odds' away win not only underlined their fighting spirit but moved them back within touching distance of the Eagles at the Elite League summit.
'What can we say about a result like this?' said Chapman. 'It just underlines the spirit and determination within the Stars' camp. We have to have belief that we can reach the play-offs in our first season in the Elite League.'
Lynn's final winning margin could well have been even wider after leading throughout. Lynn moved 44-34 ahead with just two heats remaining but despite a tactical success from the faultess Lewis Bridger, the visitors had a big enough lead to overcome a home maximum in the finale. Kenneth Bjerre won his first three outings with Schlein also opening with a brace. Bjerre and Masters combined for Lynn's first maximum to open up a six-point advantage in the fifth race.
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Cameron Woodward triumphed in race two but hopes of an Eastbourne 5-1 evaporated as both Auty and Filip Sitera romped past Timo Lahti down the back straight of lap one. Schlein took the win ahead of Pedersen for a further 3-3 in heat six to spark a run of four split races that saw the Stars preserve their six point advantage going into the second half.
Home guest Edward Kennett was the first to eclipse Schlein in the seventh but with Lahti again trailing the field, Lyon's men were able to square off the heat. Masters continued a superb display with another win ahead of both Ty Proctor and Woodward in race eight but although Bridger took top honours in the next, Woodward's last place behind Schlein and Auty ensured Lynn remained in control.
Pedersen secured the win ahead of Doolan in heat ten with Proctor scooping third place at the expense of Auty with time running out for the hosts. Bjerre and Masters blazed away from Kennett on the resumption in heat 11 for their second 5-1 of the night. A bizarre twelfth race saw Woodward hit the front ahead of Doolan but his efforts to bring Bridger through to join him ended when the duelling duo sliding off. Both riders remounted but Doolan was quickest away and although Bridger was first to the flag again the points were shared - leaving the Sussex men eight adrift. Bridger went to the tapes on a tactical in the penultimate tour but Auty and Doolan claimed the minor spoils to confirm the away win before Bridger and Pedersen's maximum reduced Lynn's points haul.
• Eagles: Pedersen 11+1, Proctor 5+2, Bridger 18, Kennett 6, Lahti 0, Woodward 5+2.
• Stars: Bjerre 11, Masters 11+2, Doolan 5+3, Schlein 13, Auty 7+1, Sitera 1+1.