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Pirates: Play-offs 'getting away' from Poole says Middleditch
The Hammers' 50-43 victory not only left Pirates empty handed but gave the hosts all three points to extend to six the gap between Poole and Lakeside in the fourth play-off place.
Had the Wimborne Road outfit scored a solitary point more, they would have cut the deficit to just four.
And while Middleditch defiantly claimed his charges would fight on, he conceded Pirates faced “an uphill struggle” with just four meetings to go.
Middleditch told the Daily Echo: “It is getting away from us and it is going to be very tough after losing to Peterborough and now Lakeside.
“We face an uphill struggle, that's for sure, but we will keep trying and as long as it is possible, we will keep pushing.”
Under-strength Poole, shorn of four regular riders, saw their cause further hampered by reserve Micky Dyer failing to register a point.
And even with a superb 17-point haul by star man Darcy Ward, Pirates left Essex with nothing to show for their efforts.
Peter Karlsson trumped Ward in heat one before Lakeside's number seven Richard Lawson surpassed Kyle Howarth on the third lap of heat two as Pirates started badly.
Greg Hancock opened with a win but Lakeside secured another 4-2 despite Davey Watt being beaten by the two-minute clock to start 15 metres behind eventual backmarker Dyer.
Howarth was excluded from heat five following Lewis Bridger's fall but Ward won to keep Pirates in touch, while Hancock tried to lead the fightback with his second race success of the night.
But Hammers extended their lead when Swiderski took his first chequered flag before former Pirates captain Watt teamed up with Karlsson for the home side's first maximum to leave Pirates trailing by 10.
Ward donned the black and white hat and recovered from a shaky start to force his way to the front to get Pirates back in with a shout.
Ward's wonderful win in heat 13 then lit the blue touch paper ahead of the final two races.
However, disaster struck when Howarth replaced Dyer at reserve, broke the tapes to concede 15 metres and was then disqualified for moving at the start of the re-run.
That was followed by Timo Lahti's fall, but the Pirates guest still picked up a point when track officials awarded the heat to Swiderski and Lawson to leave Poole trailing by seven going into the crucial final showdown.
Any kind of advantage would have handed depleted Pirates a potentially priceless Elite League point and denied Lakeside a maximum haul of three but despite Ward's magnificent ride from back to front, Hancock was squeezed out by Swiderski and Karlsson as Hammers claimed a big win in the play-off race.
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