Photo Gallery: Elite League: King’s Lynn Stars 41, Swindon Robins 52
Former Stars ace Troy Batchelor returned to the Norfolk Arena to drive what is surely the final nail in the coffin of King's Lynn's Elite League play-off hopes tonight.
The Australian, who began his career in Britain with then Premier League Lynn in 2005, was unbeaten all night as his maximum 15 inspired the Robins to a deserved 11-point victory.
Lynn's third home defeat of the campaign leaves them with an uphill, but not mathematically impossible, task of reaching the end-of-season showcase meetings with just three fixtures left.
Stars team boss Rob Lyon admitted his side were second-best when he said: 'We were beaten by the better team on the night. They were far superior to us, especially from the traps. They deserved their four points.'
Perhaps more worryingly for Lynn, when asked if he is likely to call it a day at the end of the season, the popular Lyon replied with an unconvincing 'we shall have to wait and see'.
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The Stars' slim top-four hopes were hanging by a thread before the meeting began with only a victory – by seven points or more – being good enough. Anything less and Lynn's play-off dreams were all but up in smoke.
Second-placed Swindon were always likely to provide a tough test as they looked to keep up their hopes of finishing top of the table after a fine season. And from the off, the Robins looked by far the superior outfit – especially from the gate. Lyon's charges missed the start almost as regularly as their opposition clocked up race, and heat, wins.
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Co-promoter Jonathan Chapman's presence as starting marshall in place of the usual man on the tapes, who was late, even failed to inspire an off-the-pace Lynn. The Stars registered just one race, and heat victory, before the interval thanks to Daniel Nermark's heat seven triumph which helped his side collect a maximum 5-1.
The Stars were eight points behind at the break and only threatened a comeback after winning heat 12 – with Maciej Janowski collecting double points on a tactical.
His race win owed much to reserve Kevin Wolbert who showed intelligence and knowledge to push Peter Kildemand wide, allowing Janowski to pass, before letting the Pole go in front of him to collect six points.
That 8-1 gave the Stars a glimmer of hope but three more heat wins for the visitors gave them a convincing victory on the night a former Star shone brightest.
Batchelor had the final say by winning heat 15 but should have left his talking on the track as referee Mick Posselwhite fined him �50 for saying 'for the fans booing me, stick that up ya' during his side's victory parade.
King's Lynn: Niels-Kristian Iversen 9, Ulrich Ostergaard 2 (1), Maciej Janowski 11 (1), Mads Korneliussen 4, Daniel Nermark 5, Kevin Wolbert 9 (2), Mateusz Szczepaniak 1 (1)
Swindon: Hans Andersen 8, Simon Stead 6 (1), Peter Kildemand 6, Jason Doyle 6 (1), Troy Batchelor 15, Lasse Bjerre 2, Dawid Lampart 9 (1)