Elite League: King’s Lynn Stars 49, Belle Vue Aces 41
- Credit: Ian Burt
Niels-Kristian Iversen denied the Aces the losing point they deserved by producing a sublime last-heat win to strengthen the hosts' play-off push.
The pressure was on the Stars – who lost 55-35 at Belle Vue on Monday – with Mark Lemon's visitors and Swindon gaining ground in the bid to secure a top-four Elite League finish. Yet Lynn did their hopes of reaching the end-of-season shoot-out for glory no harm at all by sending the soon-to-be occupants of the new National Stadium home empty handed.
All evening, even during the one hour delay as the track was prepared, the mood lingered in the air that the troops wearing the yellow and white helmet colours were going to add to their growing points tally. And it certainly seemed that way in the 15th race of a hard-fought clash with Craig Cook hitting the front.
Yet Iversen, not for the first time, showed his world-class ability to hold his nerve at top speed when it matters most to ruin the Aces' hopes. He blasted past the Brit down the back straight to round off a stunning display which also saw him produce an eye-of-the-needle move to slice between Matej Zagar and team-mate Vaclav Milik during one of his four triumphs.
With little margin for error, the Stars' eight-point glory – which had it been six would have given the Aces something to show for their efforts – has strengthened their grip on third. Yet the Aces, fourth and now 11 points further back, can take plenty of heart from their spirited showing as they aim to qualify.
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Most expected the action to be close and that was certainly the way it started with the first four heats being shared. While the teams swapped race winners, an advantage couldn't be gained. Zagar, home guest Adam Roynon and Kenneth Bjerre all wrapped up routine triumphs before Robert Lambert pulled out what is becoming his customary breathtaking heat-four success.
The Stars' second string missed the gate yet wound Josh Grajczonek in to eventually squeeze under him in thrilling style. The screams of delight coming from inside his helmet, presumably, couldn't be heard – but the expletive-ridden outburst from Ashley Morris, as he crossed the line for a last, could. It showed his growing frustration at an inability to get up a head of steam for Rob Lyon's side.
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The deadlock was finally broken in the fifth when Nicklas Porsing got a flier and was joined by Roynon to chalk up a 5-1. That max was the only one to arrive however as the rivals refused to give each other an inch.
That competitive edge was typified in the eighth when two of the British scene's finest teenage talents went toe-to-toe in daring fashion. Norfolk hero Lambert and Aussie Max Fricke – who was well below par compared to his guest outing for the Stars last week – hit the front on separate occasions before the home favourite flew back past the Aces' second-string. Fricke was having none of it mind and roared after his opponent only to come off as he threw everything he had at Lynn's 17-year-old.
That sort of action was evident all night with little to separate the top-four hopefuls and that's the way it remained right up until the nominated ride where, not for the first time, a sprinkling of Iversen magic saw the Stars shine at the business end of a meeting.
Lynn: N-K Iversen 14, N Porsing 6+1, K Bjerre 8+1, R Lambert 8+2, V Milik 5, A Roynon (Guest) 6+1, A Morris 2
Aces: M Zagar 11, M Fricke 1, C Cook 10+1, J Grajczonek 5, S Nicholls 3+1, S Worrall 7, S Nielsen 4+2