Kevin Ling is back with his usual match day preview of the action at Arlington Stadium tonight (April 21). The Eastbourne Forman IT Eagles are looking for a big lead in the first leg of the KO Cup first round against the Isle of Wight. 

Eastbourne ‘Forman IT’ Eagles set out in defence of the Knockout Cup at Arlington Stadium on Saturday evening with a 7.30 p.m. start time.

The club has effectively made the competition their own in the three years since their transition to National League circles with successive victories in 2015, 2016 and 2017.

They will now be looking to make it four in a row and the first in line, trying to put a dent in their aspirations are the Isle of Wight Warriors.

This will prove the first ever match up in Knockout Cup competition between the two teams.

The second leg is scheduled for the Warriors Andrew Younie Smallbrook stadium this coming Thursday, 26th April.

The team coming out on top over the two legs will go through to face the Coventry Bees in the next round.

Both the Eagles and the Warriors will be hoping for a little help from their friends as they come to tapes this weekend.

Eastbourne number one and Captain Mark Baseby will miss the meeting, Danny Ayres will step up to the plate and deputise in his place.

For the Warriors, Ben Morley will also be an absentee competing for his senior club Lakeside. Josh Bailey, who spent the latter part of last season with the Eagles, will be his guest replacement.

Indeed both Ayres and Bailey ride for the Mildenhall Fen Tigers who are expected to pose one of the Sussex side’s chief rivals for honours in season 2018.

Following a hectic three day spell last weekend, one that proffered wins both away and Plymouth and at home against the Buxton Hitmen, these two results preceding a travelling reverse against Coventry on Sunday, the team who await the aggregate winners between the Eagles and the Warriors.

The Eagles will be looking to atone for that 51-39 defeat as they endeavour to get back on track against the Isle of Wight, the reward for a two-legged success being another crack at the Bees when they would hope to put that particular record straight.

In order to do that however they have to get there first and in no way will the Island outfit be looking to make life easy for them.

Former Eagle, Ben Hopwood, a member of the 2015 triple winning side is now one of the Warriors heavy hitters and the Arlington faithful know only too well just what he is capable of around their circuit.

With the likes of Scott Campos, Chris Widman and Danno Verge providing the chief support to Bailey and Hopwood, if Jamie Sealey and Adam Portwood form an effective reserve pairing, with their home leg still to come anything is of course possible.     

Teams: (in alphabetical order)

Eagles: Danny Ayres (Guest for Mark Baseby), Tom Brennan, Charlie Brooks, Kelsey Dugard, Jason Edwards, Charley Powell, Georgie Wood.

Warriors: Josh Bailey (Guest for Ben Morley), Scott Campos, Ben Hopwood, Adam Portwood, Jamie Sealey, Danno Verge, Chris Widman.

Paul Watson