Eagles’ date with destiny tonight

IF ever a sports team had a date with destiny, it is the Eastbourne Eagles. Three matches in a little over 24 hours should put the team in the play-offs.

Tonight (Friday) they ride at Coventry with tomorrow (Saturday) two matches at Arlington Stadium in what is known as a “double header”.

There are potentially ten points on the table from those matches and if the Eagles were to snaffle the lot, their passage into the season-ending finale would be guaranteed.

Saturday’s matches will be a test of man and machine and come at the end of a busy week for the riders.

Take the Lifestyle Eagles No1, Bjarne Pedersen, for example. He rode for the Eagles on Sunday and Monday this week, was in Sweden on Tuesday, rode at Poole in a testimonial match on Wednesday. He was bringing an extra mechanic to England to help with the workload but otherwise had no concerns. That is the general tone in the Eagles camp.

Saturday’s matches have a 6.45pm start with the parade with racing starting promptly at 7pm. That’s Eastbourne v Wolverhampton. Once that is over, there will be about a 20-minute break for track preparation. Eagles v Coventry will follow.

Experienced referee Mick Bates from Norfolk has been appointed. This former rider, now a police officer, is a perfect choice. I’m sure he will keep the action moving, which is what needs to happen when there are due to be 30 races.

Entry for Adults has been set at £24 with concessions at £21. Children’s prices remain the same as normal with a Family Ticket (2 adults and 2 children) costing £56. The Kid a Quid scheme will operate as normal.

The Coventry team raised a few eyebrows when it was announced for Saturday’s match. Troy Batchelor – the man the Eagles fans love to hate – is at No 1 in place of Emil Sayfutdinov while Chris Harris is in for the suspended Edward Kennett.

They are using rider replacement for Przemyslaw Pawlicki while they had yet to name a guest for Piotr Pawlicki.

I’m not sure what is going on at Bees but I’m not impressed that they should be racing in such an important fixture with so many guests – it seems as if they may only track three of their own riders in the match.

Last Sunday, the Eagles had a routine day at the office, beating Swindon 59-34. The scoreline does not reflect the racing. Two races stood out: the Bridger/Klindt clash late on and Cameron Woodward’s ride from last to second to claim a 5-1. At times Woodward appeared to be riding on the air fence but he eventually claimed second spot with a wonderfully judged inside pass on Hesper B Monberg. Also worthy of note was Bjarne Pedersen’s shielding of Daniel King for a 5-1.

Eastbourne hardly had to break sweat – tonight and Saturday are a different matter.