Jon Cook says Eastbourne wished they could turn back time when they suffered their first home defeat.

Now they can do the next best thing – by making a point against Leicester in the Knockout Cup.

The Fineprint Eagles saw a flying start to the season hit its first bump in the road when they went down 45-44 at home to the Lions in the SGB Championship.

They were on course for a win until Richard Lawson lost a footrest and crashed on the final bend with the chequered flag in his sights.

The teams meet again in the Cup quarter-finals on Sunday (3.30pm)with Eagles looking for a home win in the first leg – ideally by a double-figure margin.

Brighton-based former GP star Scott Nicholls and ex-Eagles racer Ellis Perks are part of a Leicester side who are flying in the league.

But Cook sees this as the biggest meeting yet this season at Arlington and would love his team to prove a point.

He told The Argus: “Riders are always motivated but, in this one, there is a special feeling.

“When that meeting finished, I don’t think any of us thought we had been at our best.

“Not just the seven riders. We all thought we could have done better as a club in our preparation for that meeting.

“We had got off to a good start and maybe we just felt unstoppable.

“As soon as that meeting ended, I think we all wished we could go back and do it again.

“We now have that chance.

“We hope to set the record straight and prove we are a competitive team in this new league we are in.

“We want to beat Leicester and, if we can do that, then think about how many we do it by. They are the class act of the league.”

Cook has been thrilled by public response to his club’s return to professional racing.

He said: “We went past the halfway stage last week and it has been a remarkable season.

“It’s a really good time for Leicester to be back here and we feel we have a point to prove.

“In the National League years and going back before that, traditionally we have had a strong record in the Knockout Cup.

“It was the first cup I was lucky enough to be part of winning, back in 1994 at Cradley. I am really looking forward to a fantastic meeting.

“Our crowds are averaging in four figures.

“We’d have been pinching ourselves when we were preparing for the season if you had told us we’d be where we are now.

“Because of the contrast in strength of some of the National League teams, the crowd figures we were given for last season showed a wild fluctuation.

“They had some crowds not far short of what we are getting now but some much smaller when low quality teams like Isle of Wight were in town.

“This year there is less fluctuation.

“The litmus test was last Saturday against a Scunthorpe team who came down with a threadbare line-up propped up by three guests.

“We feared the worst. Although the weather was very good, that can lead to people being tempted away by the beach and a barbecue rather than speedway.

“So to get another crowd in four figures was really pleasing.

“Full marks to the track staff for preparing a track in that weather which barely produced a puff of dust.

“I see people at the track from the days of old who have brought younger generations with them.

“We seem to be making inroads and boosting our permanent crowd.”

Cook has praise for the community and commercial work being put in by colleague Ian Jordan.

It is usual now to see a rider or two out on the centre green for up to half an hour after the meeting talking to fans – many of them children – and posing for photos.

Cook said: “I think the most important thing is the way the riders are getting involved.

“Every single one here knows full well the people on the terraces pay their wages. It fits the tight club and community we have created.”

Eastbourne: Lawson, Morley, Newman, Kerr, Kennett, Bowtell, Wood.

Leicester: Nicholls, Perks, Bates, Douglas, Worrall, Wallinger, Mountain.

l Eagles are at Scunthorpe tonight in the league as they chase a first away point of the season.