Speedway with Shaleman: Eagles snatch victory from the jaws of defeat

A DRAMATIC recovery in the second-half of Saturday’s match at Arlington Stadium saw the Eastbourne Eagles snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

However, they couldn’t turn around the match sufficiently to secure all three league points; with the visitors, King’s Lynn, staying close enough to take one league point.

It means the Eagles have lost four home points to the Norfolk side this season; a shock in anyone’s book.

Half-way through the meeting it looked as if defeat for Eastbourne was certain. They were struggling with a track that wasn’t quite to their liking. And, as happens in these situations, the away team just turns up and gets on with it.

After eight heats, team manager Trevor Geer called a team meeting. It was no reading of the riot act; no flame-throwers and no Alex Ferguson hair-dryer treatment. That’s not Geer’s way and that’s not how the 2011 Eagles work.

As a team they reassessed the situation, worked on what needed to be done and helped each other get it right. The tactic worked. It was a different team that went into action after the interval.

Eastbourne might have taken all three points had Lukas Dryml not fallen in heat 14. He and Joonas Kylmakorpi were on a 5-1 when Dryml went down and that catapulted King’s Lynn’s guest Davey Watt into the safety fence. It looked a horrifying crash but Watt walked away.

As is often the case when he falls, Dryml gesticulates – often at the referee or his opponent but on this occasion at his team-mate.

He felt Kylmakorpi, who was leading the race, could have done more to help him as he came under increasing pressure from Watt.

Afterwards, Dryml explained what had happened but wasn’t complaining or angry with Kylmakorpi.

Without the fall, Dryml, who was unbeaten to that point, would surely have come out in heat 15. Who’s to say he would not have gone on to complete a maximum score?

For the match, Geer shuffled his team. Lewis Bridger was at No 5, Kylmakorpi at No 4 and Cam Woodward at No 2? Did it work?

Geer himself was reflecting on that after the match but in my book, the answer was a resounding no. Woodward looked uncomfortable at No 2 and I would return him to the No 4 slot, which he has very much made his own in recent years.

Bridger would move to No 2 with Kylmakorpi back at No 5. That, I think, gives a better balance.

In the Elite League, the Eagles face some crucial away matches and it is vital that they pick up points to ensure a top-four finish this year so they compete in the play-offs.

They don’t come much harder than next Wednesday when they go to Poole, still most people’s tip to be champions this year. And that is followed by a visit to Coventry; another toughie.

The Eagles do not have a league fixture at Arlington until July 2 but are in action on home shale a week tomorrow (June 18) when they take on Wolverhampton in the KO Cup.

A certain amount of fixture shuffling is taking place at the moment. Details should be available for next week’s column.