Dale Allitt left to reflect on what might have been for King's Lynn Stars
PUBLISHED: 12:38 11 October 2018 | UPDATED: 12:38 11 October 2018
Matthew Usher Photography
Dale Allitt struggled to express his emotions as he reflected on a night of agony for King's Lynn Stars.
He wasn’t helped by the party going on a few yards away in the pits at the Adrian Flux Arena and the glimpses of the shiny silver Premiership trophy being offered by the Poole Pirates.
It was a tantalising glimpse of what might have been for Allitt, his riders and the huge number of fans who had turned up for the second leg of the play-off final hoping against hope the team could overturn a 16-point deficit from the first leg.
They won the battle but lost the war, as the Pirates finished ahead by four points overall. The damage had been done on Monday on the south coast when Lynn lost a second key rider, Michael Palm Toft, to injury and were on the end of a couple of questionable refereeing decisions – both were related, both had an influence on the outcome.
It left team boss Allitt choosing his words carefully.
“I think the difference was probably the first leg,” he said. “I am not going to say too much more because people will say you are bitter, but decisions cost us.”
The loss of Palm Toft and Niels-Kristian Iversen – injured in Poland on Sunday – was a huge setback, with guests Kyle Howarth (3) and Adam Ellis (3) unable to reproduce the absentees’ usual dominant home form.
“There is not a lot you can do when you only have three teams you can choose from at this time of the year because a lot of people have gone home and there are injuries,” said Allitt, who know has to prepare a team for next week’s KO Cup final against Somerset. “Injuries are part of the sport and losing Michael was a massive blow, but what can you do? You can only work with the cards you have got. The spirit did show even at the end, going out and getting a 5-1 when it is all over - that takes a lot of heart.”
Rather than being labelled losing play-off finalists, the Stars were silver medallists – hardly a compensation for Allitt.
“It doesn’t feel very silver-ish at the moment,” he said. “Everyone is human – we put so much into this. How can you not be proud of this team because they have done phenomenal things this year.
“Now we have to pick ourselves up, which we will do - but in a day or so.”