King’s Lynn Stars hoping to keep faint play-off hopes alive in front of Sky Sports cameras
While their play-off ambitions still burn brightly, King's Lynn Stars know their hopes can be all but extinguished in front of the Sky Sports cameras tonight.
The Norfolk Arena outfit realistically need a miracle to make the promised land of the Elite League top four, but refuse to give up while they mathematically can.
Rob Lyon's side welcome fellow play-off chasers Birmingham Brummies to Saddlebow Road this evening and know they must perform well in front of Nigel Pearson and company to give themselves any chance of making the end-of-season showcase again.
Lynn, sixth, sit one place and one point ahead of the Brummies but have crucially ridden three times more than them. A maximum victory, by seven or more, would give the Stars three points and move them above Peterborough Panthers into fifth.
A top-scoring win at Perry Barr in the return fixture against Birmingham tomorrow would give the Stars four more points which could seem them replace Lakeside Hammers in fourth – but only if the Hammers do not beat the Panthers by a similar-sized margin on the same night.
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With Eastbourne Eagles facing reigning champions and table-topping Poole tonight, they could plummet from third to fifth in the space of two days, if they lose and results go against them.
Such is the mathematical minefield set to explode during the final weeks of the season, as four teams battle for the remaining two play-off spots, the Stars' home defeat to Swindon last week made their task even more difficult.
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However, Lakeside's shock home defeat to already-qualified Poole last week, gave Lynn a glimmer of hope. It was the Hammers' fourth loss on the bounce and Lyon wants his side to capitalise by winning their remaining three fixtures.
He said: 'Last week's result against Swindon was extremely disappointing, but we now have a chance to make up for it. I will be trying to get the team to come together and grab this opportunity with both hands.
'We will have a task on our hands though as Birmingham themselves are also in a position to make a late charge for the play-offs and will be just as determined. Maybe it will go right down to the wire.'
New Danish champion and Stars number one Niels-Kristian Iversen will miss tonight's meeting due to it clashing with a fixture in his homeland. Popular British Grand Prix star Chris 'Bomber' Harris will guest in his place.
Mateusz Szczepaniak will be riding in the main body of the team for the first time while Ulrich Ostergaard, who along with Daniel Nermark and Kevin Wolbert used to ride for Birmingham, moves to reserve after the September averages were released.
Grand Prix star Bjarne Pedersen leads the charge for the Midlands team which also features Great Britain aces Ben Barker, Josh Auty and Danny King.
Visiting skipper King believes his side - facing the Stars for the first time this season due to rain-offs - can do the double over Lynn as the race for the top-four hots up.
He told his club's official website: 'I think we can sneak a win at their place and obviously I feel we can win at Perry Barr. They are without their number one who has been sensational this season so they are using a guest in Chris Harris and that plays into our hands a little.
'Hopefully we can capitalise on that by going there and getting the win which would really give us a great shout of sneaking a top four spot.'
Gates open at 6pm, parade 7.30pm, tapes up 7.45pm.
King's Lynn: 1 Chris Harris (guest), 2 Mateusz Szczepaniak, 3 Maciej Janowski, 4 Mads Korneliussen, 5 Daniel Nermark, 6 Kevin Wolbert, 7 Ulrich Ostergaard
Birmingham: 1 Bjarne Pedersen, 2 Josh Auty, 3 Danny King, 4 Ben Barker, 5 Sebastian Ulamek, 6 Nicolas Covatti, 7 Martin Smolinski