LAKESIDE kept their play-off hopes alive with a vital 48-45 win over table-topping Belle Vue at the Arena-Essex Raceway.
After briefly dropping out of the Elite League top four, the Vortex Hammers offered a perfect response to climb back above Swindon on point’s difference.
It was a much-needed victory for the Purfleet outfit – and team coach Kelvin Tatum was delighted to claim a crucial three points.
Said Tatum: “It was a good all-around performance because, even without Matej Zagar, Belle Vue were always going to be a tough proposition.
“We’re delighted to come away with the victory, and in truth we maybe took our foot off the gas a little bit at the end.
“It’s very important for us to make sure we keep winning, and we could easily have slipped up tonight.
“We got over Wednesday’s disappointment quickly, and although Belle Vue will be pleased to get a point, from our perspective it was just about getting the three league points.
“We’ve had a tough test but we came through and got the result we needed, so I’m very proud of the team.”
The home side led for the majority of the meeting but were forced to withstand a late Aces fightback after Craig Cook won a tactical ride in heat 12.
They nonetheless held their nerve to come out on top, with star skipper Andreas Jonsson winning heat 13 to seal victory before the visitors snatched a consolation point with back to back 5-1s in the final two races.
Jonsson starred on his return from illness which caused him to miss Wednesday’s defeat at the National Speedway Stadium.
But it was a strong all-around team performance from the Hammers in the absence of Edward Kennett.
Heat-leaders Richard Lawson and Kim Nilsson both put in strong showings and delivered a timely 5-1 in heat 10.
Lewis Bridger also recorded two race wins whilst reserve duo Lewis Kerr and Robert Mear made solid contributions as the home side ran just five last places.
After giving their top four ambitions a major boost, the Hammers will be back in action at Coventry on Friday, August 19 before hosting the Bees at the Arena-Essex Raceway on Saturday, August 20.
LAKESIDE 48: Andreas Jonsson 12, Lewis Bridger 11, Richard Lawson 8+2, Kim Nilsson 7+1, Lewis Kerr 5+2, Robert Mear 5+1, Edward Kennett r/r.
BELLE VUE 45: Scott Nicholls 13+1, Craig Cook 12+1, Richie Worrall 8+1, Nick Morris 6+1, Steve Worrall 6, Joe Jacobs 0, Matej Zagar r/r.