King’s Lynn Stars leave themselves a hard task in Shield return
KING'S LYNN 49, RYE HOUSE 41: King's Lynn's hopes of finishing the season with some consolation silverware hang in the balance after a narrow victory over Rye House.
The Stars were keen to find some sort of consolation for their fans at the end of a difficult season, but it may be that the sight of Tomas Topinka at his majestic best around the Norfolk Arena will be the best memory they have as the campaign draws to a close.
'It's still all to play for,' said Topinka. 'Anything can happen.'
But with Olly Allen the only other home rider in double figures, Lynn will need their middle order to find something above the ordinary to keep their hopes alive.
Allen got things off to a winning start, with visiting skipper Linus Sundstrum the meat in the sandwich as Lasse Bjerre pushed him all the way to the line for third.
But the visitors levelled it up immediately, Kyle Hughes getting past Adam Roynon on the first bend to take control, with debutant Ben Morley claiming a point in his first senior race.
Morley was out again in the third, as rider replacement for former Stars rider Robbie Kessler, but his race was brief, his bike flying away from under him on the second lap. He emerged unscathed but Lynn couldn't take advantage of his absence, Kozza Smith finishing behind Chris Neath for a share of the spoils.
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Stars skipper Tomas Topinka helped Lynn regain the two-point advantage, although it was Cal McDade's successful battle for third with Kyle Hughes which was rather more gripping.
But the lead was wiped out as the visitors notched a maximum, Chris Mills trailing home in third with Smith recovering after a fall on the second bend to finish way off the pace.
It was clearly becoming a bit of a struggle for Lynn, although they were aided by Jordan Frampton's 15-metre penalty in the sixth, which made their first maximum of the night, courtesy of Allen and Bjerre, a little easier.
There should have been another in the seventh, but Roynon almost clipped the fence as Neath came under him for second, recovering well enough to fight back for a single point in a 4-2 for the Stars.
Bjerre did everything but get past Ekberg in a shared eighth as Lynn kept hold of their four-point advantage.
Mills hit the fence hard on the second bend, leaving Smith to do all the work, but Frampton came alive after his previous gating problems to lead a visiting 4-2 and cut the gap to 28-26 with six heats to go.
The interval did little to perk Lynn up, with a shared 10th heat leaving Rye House far too close for comfort.
Topinka was immaculate as he made it three wins on the trot when the big guns squared up, Roynon splitting the Rockets to double the margin,
Both sides switched reserves for the 12th, Neath an impressive winner as the spoils were shared.
The first of the tail end's top order clashes saw Topinka and Sundstrum touch on the back straight, with the Rockets man taking a tumble on the third bend, with only a cigarette paper between the pair of them.
The re-run saw only the second maximum of the night for Lynn, Allen and Topinka showing Frampton the way home – and stretching the lead to eight, the biggest margin of the night.
Smith finished with a flourish, winning a shared penultimate race, leaving Topinka and Allen to try and extend the lead in the finale. Topinka did his bit with fourth win of the night, but with Mills trailing in last it left Lynn with only eight points in hand.
• King's Lynn: Topinka 14, Allen 11, Smith 7, Roynon 6, Bjerre 6, Mills 4, McDade 1
• Rye House: Neath 13, Ekberg 10, Frampton 7, Sundstrum 5, Hughes 4, Morley 2.