Elite League: Lakeside Hammers 45, King’s Lynn Stars 47
- Credit: Matthew Usher
A stunning 21-point maximum from Niels-Kristian Iversen helped Lynn win a ding-dong affair and climb to the Elite League summit.
The world-class number one was untouchable all evening during the top-of-the-table clash which saw the Stars leapfrog Lakeside in the table. His six-point race win, when going for double during a tactical ride in the 11th, saw his troops begin to miraculously claw their way back from an 11-point deficit.
And in true match-winning style, he won a last-heat decider while skipper Rory Schlein picked up a precious third to secure a 4-2 heat advantage which ensured the Hammers lost on their own shale for the first time this season.
It was a sensational climax to a night of controversy which saw twists and turns aplenty in front of the Sky Sports cameras as the top two locked horns at Arena Essex.
The Stars' cause wasn't helped going into the televised clash by the withdrawals of Grand Prix ace Kenneth Bjerre and reserve Lewis Rose through injury. The latter was replaced by Young Star Darren Mallett while Rob Lyon had to operate the rider-replacement facility for the Dane.
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However, it certainly didn't matter early on as the Norfolk Arena outfit got off to a flier picking up four race wins in the opening five. While Mallett understandably struggled with the step-up to the top-flight, his team-mates for the evening continued to go toe-to-toe with the early-season pace-setters. Even when Lakeside's riders started to succeed at the tapes, the sensational Iversen was just too quick for them as he scythed back up the inside of Davey Watt and Lewis Bridger to win – again.
The evening's drama really stepped up a notch in the seventh when Mallett was removed and Robert Lambert was involved in a controversial exclusion in the re-run. The 16-year-old's bike almost died on him as he was destined for a third, and a point. But he inexplicably went to leave the track and – only after being instructed to return – completed the heat.
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Referee Jim Lawrence deemed he had received 'outside assistance', much to the dismay of Lyon, and excluded him to leave the Stars losing 5-0, rather than 5-1. It sparked a string of maximum heat reverses which threatened to derail the visitors' fine start to the night.
Yet, the unbeatable Iversen won his tactical and in the 11th he triumphed again, followed home by Lambert who deserved credit for bouncing back from his earlier embarrasment. A max for Lakeside saw them go six in front with three to go but Iversen and Schlein won the 13th 4-2, the 14th was awarded as a 5-1 to Lyon's heroes after Adam Ellis stayed down, and it was Lynn's number one and captain who saw their team home at the death to pick up three huge league points.
Lakeside (number of rides): Karlsson 6+2 (5), Lawson 8 (4), Watt 11 (5), Bridger 6+2 (x), Bech 2 (4), Morley 6+2 (4), Ellis 6+2 (4)
Lynn: Iversen 21 (6), Porsing 3 (5), Schlein 8+1 (6), Lambert 7+1 (5), Mallett (guest) 0 (3), Kerr 8+1 (5)