Newcastle Diamonds gave themselves a mountain to climb in order to reach the Premier League Chamionship play-off final after defeat at Redcar.
The Diamonds were desperate to avoid a repeat of last season’s play-off disappointment, but once again their hopes are hanging by a thread.
Team manager George English said: “We were comfortably six points up early on and looking good for a solid away win in our most important matches of the season.
“Yet we dramatically lost our direction and in some cases it looked like our determination as well, and the final result can only be described as very, very disappointing indeed.
“It now makes our job all the more harder to make the Championship final itself next month, and I only hope the determination I know these lads possess returns rapidly.”
Lewis Kerr, the Diamonds’ number seven, and second reserve, has been in stunning form of late and made no mistake in roaring away in heat one to overhaul Hugh Skidmore to take up the lead and win well with Richie Worrall in third.
The Diamonds were 9-3 up after heat two, won expertly by Kerr once more, but this time Chris Schramm was able to hang on to second place.
Matej Kus and Ulrich Ostergaard gave Ludvig Lindgren something to think about jetting ahead to take a home 5-1 of their own, before Kerr took his third win in four races.
Ostergaard made the best of his gate in heat five to defeat Worrall in a 4-2 before Rosen took heat six and Schramm heat seven in two good shared 3-3s which moved the tight scoreline along to 20-22. Ostergaard and Kus then took the match by the scruff of the neck.
Not to mention Rosen and Schramm, who had nothing to throw back at the home pair who hit a Bears’ maximum 5-1 into the mix which put the home side into the lead for the first time all night at 28-26.
The Diamonds appeared to be losing their grip on proceedings with the ineffectual partnership of Tully and Lindgren managing just one point between them behind the determined battling of Micky Dyer and Skidmore.
Coming out of the interval, Bears’ skipper Summers took the three points away from Diamonds captain Worrall and the lead went up to 37-29.
That run became an all-out sprint as in the 11th race Wilkinson took the win over Ostergaard with Kerr – in for the out of touch Tully – nabbing third over Schramm, but that 5-1 took the score to 42-30 with three races left on the card, and mathematically the best Newcastle could hope for would be a draw.
But with Summers taking heat 13 over Worrall and Rosen the 3-3, which took the score to 45-33 – a guaranteed win for Redcar – with the only hope for Newcastle to restrict the win to less than six and take one league point for themselves.
But that dream was blown apart too in heat 14 won again by Wilkinson over Lindgren who finally showed some “oomph” albeit a little late in the night in the 4-2 to move the score on to 49-35 and leave the Diamonds pointless.