Photo gallery: Elite League: King’s Lynn Stars 44, Swindon Robins 43
- Credit: Matthew Usher
The Stars failed to pick up three points for the fourth time against Swindon while their injury worries grew tonight thanks to Rory Schlein's nasty spill.
Lynn's skipper withdrew from the meeting after ploughing into the air fence in heat 11 and left the Norfolk Arena nursing what was thought to be a shoulder problem. It compounded a miserable 24 hours for Rob Lyon who earlier in the day had, if Twitter was to be believed, lost Lewis Rose for the rest of the campaign.
The reserve used his own account to tell fans his term was over thanks to the blow to the knee he sustained riding for Newcastle at the weekend. Although that information has yet to be officially confirmed by Saddlebow Road chiefs, it would leave their team boss facing a headache going into the business end of 2014.
Lyon looks likely to need to find a replacement for Rose – which may well be this evening's guest Simon Lambert – but matters will get more serious if their captain's crash has caused serious damage. Just as Lynn need to be hitting top gear for the play-offs, their quest for glory doesn't want to be running out of steam.
While Lynn won a last-heat decider to move six points clear of Poole, whose home fixture with Eastbourne fell foul of the weather, their victory hardly instilled fear into their main rivals for top spot in the Elite League. More worryingly, top-four chasing Swindon themselves look to actually be in far finer fettle going into the end-of-season shootout.
If the Wiltshire outfit qualify, their riders seem to be hitting form while some of Lyon's troops are on a downward curve. Robins' number one Peter Kildemand only limped to two, paid three, and can only improve. And with the heat leader backed up by impressive middle-order riders Nick Morris and Dakota North, the 2012 champions look to be clicking when it matters most.
Morris and former Star North picked up impressive 11-point hauls while their counterparts, Robert Lambert and Nicklas Porsing, picked up single-figure scores and struggled to find the pace that had seen them help their side power to the top of the standings earlier in the term.
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Frustratingly, even lady luck seems to have deserted the Stars right now. In heat 11, on-song Kenneth Bjerre's bike packed up forcing him to exceed the two-minute pre-race warning. His replacement, Lewis Kerr, retired in the re-run with machinery failure. And to heap more woe on the hosts, Schlein, while leading, then careered off at high speed.
The unusual 3-0 scoreline pulled the visitors to one-point behind Lynn with four to go and that's how it ended up. It looked like it might have been worse as the Robins took the lead for the first time going into the 13th. However, powerhouse pair Niels-Kristian Iversen and Bjerre smashed in a maximum 5-1 heat advantage, their side's first of the night, to keep the Stars ahead.
Even though Troy Batchelor won the last-heat decider, Iversen and Bjerre – Lynn's top scorers again – followed him home to ensure they at least picked up another home triumph. Yet it failed to mask a worrying night where home fans left Saddlebow Road hoping a sensational season is not spluttering to a disappointing finale.
Lynn: N-K Iversen 12, R Lambert 5+1, R Schlein 2, N Porsing 4+1, K Bjerre 9+2, L Kerr 8, S Lambert 4
Swindon: P Kildemand 2+1, N Morris 11, S Gustafsson 2+1, D North 11, T Batchelor 11, N Greaves 6, S Worrall 0