KENT 45, EASTBOURNE 45

Objective achieved. That was the immediate verdict of the Eastbourne Eagles management after a 45-45 draw in tonight’s (September 24) first leg KO Cup semi-final at Kent.

Team manager Connor Dugard set his team the task of victory, or keeping the score close enough to claw back in the second leg at Arlington on Saturday.

Eastbourne, brilliantly led by No 1 Georgie Wood, made a superb start, withstood a mid-meeting fightback from their hosts to leave things all square.

Dugard said: “We made a great start to the meeting. It gave us confidence for when the going got tough later on.

“We really fought hard tonight and got the result we deserved. Georgie was inspirational.

“Obviously, this is only the half-way stage of the semi-final but we have given ourselves a fabulous chance to go through to the final.”

Scorers:

Kent: Alex Spooner 13+2 (6), Ben Morley 13 (5), Jack Thomas 8 (5), Nathan Stoneman 6 (4), Anders Rowe 5+1 (4), Taylor Hampshire 0 (3), William O’Keefe 0 (3).

Eastbourne: Georgie Wood 16 (6), Tom Brennan 8 (6), Jason Edwards 7+1 (5), Charley Powell 6+2 (5), Ethan Spiller 6 (4), Charlie Brooks 2+1 (4). No 8: Rhys Laker dnr.


This website covered the match live. Here is our coverage.

Your Eastbourne Forman IT Eagles are at Kent tonight (September 24) in the first leg of the National League KO semi-final.

A feisty clash is in prospect after the stormy encounter a few weeks back in the league.

Since then, the Sittingbourne-based club has further stirred the pot with combative press releases on its website ahead of tonight’s action.

As usual, your Press team is in place to bring you coverage.

Kevin Ling is ringside watching the action at Central Park, while Paul Watson is at home, in the warm, with his slippers on, bringing it altogether and adding some commentary along the way.

Here’s what Kevin has to say from his grandstand position along the start/finish straight.

The match is due to start at 6.30pm.

Teams:

Kent: Ben Morley, Anders Rowe, Nathan Stoneman, Taylor Hampshire, Jack Thomas, William O’Keefe, Alex Spooner

Eastbourne: Georgie Wood, Jason Edwards, Mark Baseby R/R, Charley Powell, Tom Brennan, Ethan Spiller, Charlie Brooks. No 8: Rhys Laker.

Riders have been on parade.

Eastbourne have won the toss and take 1 and 3 in the first race.

It is a reasonably pleasant evening in Sittingbourne, turning cool and breezy. Decent crowd in, including a sprinkling of Eagles’ fans.

We’re just about ready to go racing.

Commentary: A KO Cup Final, probably against Mildenhall, awaits the winners of this semi-final. There were fireworks last time the clubs met at Central Park, let’s hope it is the racing which does the talking this time.

1 BOOM! The best possible start for Eagles - Wood and Edwards hit the first bend ahead of Morley and that’s how it stays with neither Morley or Rowe making any impression on the lead duo 5-1, time 57.2

2 Spooner makes the start but Spiller nips smartly through on his inside out of bend two for the win - behind them Brooks comfortably contains O’Keeffe for the odd point; 2-4, 3-9, time 60.2

3 Wood back out for the R/R. Another comfortable win for Georgie - Powell made a fine start and looked on for the 5-1 over the first lap until Stoneman went through on his inside entering lap 2 - Powell appeared down on power over the final lap and a half but held fast to deny Hampshire 2-4 5-13 time 59.0

The return leg is at Arlington on Saturday (September 29), 7.30pm

4 Kings gate on a 5-1 with Spooner hitting the front and Thomas in second - Brennan forces his way around the latter and gives chase to the leader but credit to Spooner who held his nerve and indeed held on for the win, 4-2, 9-15, time 60.3

5 Stoneman clearly a man on a mission but he couldn’t deny Georgie - the pair duelled for the lead over the first lap until Wood eased clear - behind them Edwards was fighting the good fight keeping Hampshire well behind him 2-4, 11-19, time 59.1

Commentary: Team boss Connor Dugard will be delighted with this start from his team. they have set off like a team aiming to reach the KO Cup final again. This is the start champions make. The secret now is not to lose concentration. Georgie Wood has been fabulous - fast from the gate and racing hard when needed. Keep it going Eagles.

6 One might say a clear roller from Rowe but that would sound like slightly sour grapes - suffice to say referee Graham Reeve saw nothing untoward and Kent bagged duly bagged their first maximum 5-1 of the night in good style - Morley taking the win from Rowe with Brennan back in third time, 5-1, 16-20, 59.1,

7 Edwards takes the R/R. Thomas secures his first win of the evening, despite the best intentions of Edwards - Jason follows him home with Powell again hold third place from O’Keeffe - a share of the spoils that takes the scores to 19-23. time 59.9

The return leg is at Arlington on Saturday (September 29), 7.30pm

8 This time Spooner gets the flyer but on this occasion the race was called back under orders with a warning for the rider in blue. Re-run: At the second time of asking there would be no denying the Kings who secured maximum points to level the scores at 24-points apiece - Rowe a comfortable winner with Spooner again impressing by keeping Edwards at bay 5-1, 24-24, time 58.0

Commentary: So all square at the half-way stage. Eastbourne have rapidly found out they are in a big fight. Kent have smashed their way back into this match, destroying the carefully crafted Eagles’ lead. Dig deep boys – this is proving a big test.

9 Spooner gets an extra ride, in place of Hampshire. Some gritty determination from Tom to hit the first bend first ahead of both Stoneman and Spooner - and so it remained with Spiller also giving chase, but sadly to no avail - another split of the points takes the scores to 27-27, time 59.8

10 Brennan takes R/R. Morley takes the win from Tom but Powell puts in a shift to keep Rowe in last place, the third 3-3 in four heats keeping the score line level at 30-30 heading into the interval; time 59.6

Commentary: There’s been grit and determination from the Eagles in the last few races to prevent Kent getting away. This is just the fighting spirit we expect from our riders and they are digging in. There’s five big races to come and hard work still needed to close out this first leg tie in a satisfactory way,.

11 It’s that man again. Another flying win for Wood - this time from the inside gate and this time seeing off the challenge of Thomas - Edwards follows in third well clear of O’Keeffe and suddenly Eagles are back ahead, 2-4, 32-34, time 58.8

12 Powell takes R/R but is excluded for exceeding the two minutes. Will go off 15m. A great race shaping up with Spiller jet propelled out of the start and looking to be heading for a superb win - behind him Stoneman was trying harder and harder to get on terms - the third lap saw him get hopelessly out of shape on the final turn and he buried himself into the fence - nasty crash and sadly the ambulance was called into service - hopes of course prevalent that no serious injury has been sustained - race awarded as a win for Spiller from Spooner with Powell taking the third for the 4-2 that doubles the visitors’ lead to 34-38 - no time

The return leg is at Arlington on Saturday (September 29), 7.30pm

13 A first defeat for Georgie as Ben Morley avenges his first race defeat - Wood looked to have his measure as he went between Morley and Thomas down the back straight but the home number one was was quickly back ahead, 4-2, 38-40, time 59.1

14 Spooner in for O’Keefe. Hampshire ploughs through the tapes. Goes off 15m. Spooner gates in the rerun and leads all the way from Powell and Brooks - Hampshire, not the best of nights for him, hardly making up any of the 15m deficit, 3-3, 41-43, time 60.5

15 R Thomas B Morley W Brennan Y Wood. Kent 1 and 3. Kent made the start and looking set to take the match winning 5-1 but although Morley took the chequered flag, Wood swooped around Thomas in sight of the line for the second place that saw the match finish all square 45-45 time 60.0

And remember the first leg of the National League Play-Offs semi-final against Coventry is on Saturday, October 6, at Arlington.