JON Cook hailed Lakeside’s “best form of the year” after watching his side waltz to victory in tonight’s Elite League play-off decider against Swindon.
The Hammers seized the fourth and final berth with a 58-35 trouncing of the Robins, securing a shot in the end-of-season shootout for the first time in four years.
Lakeside’s top guns led the way with guest Scott Nicholls, standing in for Andreas Jonsson at number one, and heat-leaders Kim Nilsson and Edward Kennett the top scorers.
The verdict seldom looked in doubt with Jason Doyle and reserve Charles Wright the only visiting riders to claim chequered flags.
Hammers will now look to become the first team since Swindon in 2012 to lift British speedway’s top prize the year after finishing bottom of the league table.
Cook said: “The boys deserve all the credit, every one of them performed exceptionally.
“Understandably, everyone was nervous but as it turned out we produced some of our best form of the year.
“We are delighted and can’t wait for the play-off on Wednesday. Over two legs, we feel we can be strong because of our ability at home.
“With the strength we have in our six-man team alongside whoever comes in for AJ (Jonsson), I think we have every opportunity to win.”
The next job for Cook, who expects to face table-toppers Belle Vue in the semi-final, is to find a suitable and eligible stand-in for the injured Jonsson.
“We are likely to use someone who is currently in the Elite League,” said Cook. “There are not many riders out there with the ability to quickly acclimatise to our track.
“Kelvin (Tatum) and I have a couple of options and will now start the process of deciding who is best for us.
“By Monday, we hope to be in a position to announce what the team will be.”
LAKESIDE 58: Kim Nilsson 13, Scott Nicholls 10+3, Edward Kennett 9+2, Lewis Bridger 8+1, Richard Lawson 7+3, Lewis Kerr 6, Ben Morley 5+1
SWINDON 35: Jason Doyle 15, Charles Wright 9+1, Josh Grajczonek 4, Justin Sedgmen 3+1, Rohan Tungate 2, Nick Morris 1, Stefan Nielsen 1
Elite League points: Lakeside 3 Swindon 0.