Wolverhampton will need to produce one of their greatestever comebacks at Monmore Green tonight if they are to reach the last four of the Knockout Cup.
Their normally-strong Eastbourne form deserted them at Arlington on Saturday, and a 55-38 defeat leaves them with a mountain to climb, especially as the Eagles go as well at Monmore as Wolves usually do at the south-coast venue.
A lack of race winners was the major problem on Saturday, echoes of last season's away matches, but unexpected this year with a strong heat-leader trio.
Wolves could managed just one heat win all evening as Adam Shields, Nicki Pedersen and David Norris dominated proceedings for the hosts.
Shields, making an impressive comeback from serious injury earlier in the season, reeled off five race wins for a full maximum. Norris and Pedersen won three apiece.
And typically Pedersen was involved in one of the night's main talking points, a dramatic last race which just may have given Wolves too much to do to recover.
They went into heat 15 trailing by 12 points, which would have still made East-bourne favourites for progression but would have been far more manageable than the 17-point deficit which they now face.
Billy Hamill was the first to strike trouble, his attempt to make a flying start seeing his helmet clip the tapes. The American's protests were to no avail and he was sent back 15 metres, but worse was to follow as he flew away from the handicap too early and was thrown out of the race.
That left Fredrik Lindgren facing Shields and Pedersen, and the Swede was initially able to limit the damage as he held second place. However, Pedersen mounted a trademark challenge on the inside and ran Lindgren out wide without making contact. Lindgren fell and was excluded, the referee then making the simple decision to award Eastbourne a 5-0.
Tonight, Wolves will need to hope for a very rare Monmore off-night for Pedersen, and if that happens they do have an outside chance. They need to take inspiration from a number of heavy Eastbourne away defeats this season, although the Eagles' recent record at Wolves suggests that they will be confident of finishing the job. Also a matter of concern for Wolves is the fitness of skipper Peter Karlsson, who most unusually failed to win a race at Arlington, and has been struggling with a hamstring-related injury.
It could not have come at a worse time for the inspirational Swede, who, apart from his commitments for Wolves, also has a vital Grand Prix qualifier next weekend as he bids to get back among the sport's elite.
His country will also need him in top form for the World Cup, which takes place in the middle of the month.
Coventry look to make their own Cup comeback on Friday as they trail Ipswich by six points after the away leg of their quarter-final. But inform Australian Rory Schlein misses the second leg as he will be away for his Grand Prix qualifier in Poland. ..SUPL: