Wightlink Warriors to finish home campaign with Eastbourne Eagles challenge

Alfie Bowtell. Picture: Ian Groves/SportographyAlfie Bowtell. Picture: Ian Groves/Sportography
Alfie Bowtell. Picture: Ian Groves/Sportography
The Wightlink Warriors return to the Andrew Younie Smallbrook Stadium on Thursday to face play-off chasing Eastbourne Eagles in a crucial National League fixture.

This will be the Warriors final home League meeting of the season against a team who have already tasted success on two previous occasions at Smallbrook this season in both the Knock Out Cup and National Trophy.

Although currently sitting fifth in the table, the Eagles do have winnable meetings in hand and a top-four finish will book a play-off place '“ the minimum expected by a management team hungry for silverware.

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The fast-paced Isle of Wight circuit won't hold any fears for Eagles former Warrior Mark Baseby and recent outings at Smallbrook for Tom Brennan and Jason Edwards will ensure a very competitive Eagles squad should not be hampered by the absence of Georgie Wood should he have to sit the meeting out following a heavy fall last Saturday.

This week will be the first time Warriors number one Alfie Bowtell has come up against the Eagles while representing the Island side, but he too was in the wars last weekend taking an awkward fall at Newcastle while racing for Lakeside in the Championship.

However, he is determined to line up alongside Ben Morley and Scott Campos as the Isle of Wight's top men will need to clip some Eagle wings.

There are sure to be some exciting battles as well among the lower order riders and it is their performances that might well swing the result one way or the other.

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Jamie Sealey will step in for Warriors to an otherwise unchanged home side.

Co-promoter Barry Bishop is looking forward to another great meeting.

He said: '˜I can't really believe this match completes our home league programme. We could hardly have asked for a tougher finish having to take on the Fen Tigers and the Eagles at Smallbrook in our last two home league fixtures.

'˜But it is what it is and we will be working overtime to try to finish our season off on a winning note.

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'˜We have had some fantastic nights at the Andrew Younie this season and I'm sure we're in for some classic on-track action and off-track fun this week and also next week when we will close our season with the very special Wightlink September Showdown for which details will be released very shortly.'

Early team news for Thursday:

Warriors '“ Alfie Bowtell, Danno Verge, Scott Campos, Chris Widman, Ben Morley, Jamie Sealey, Shaun Tedham.

Eagles '“ Tom Brennan, Jason Edwards, Mark Baseby, Charley Powell, Georgie Wood (if fit or rider replacement), Ethan Spiller, Charlie Brooks.

As usual, gates will open at 5.30pm, pre-match demonstrations from 6.15pm, rider parade at 6.45pm and first race at 7pm.

Report by Rob Dyer