HOPES of Swindon Robins defending their SGB Premiership play-off championship were ended last night as Manchester’s Belle Vue Aces secured the fourth and final play-off spot.

Mark Lemon’s Aces welcomed Garry May’s Rebels to the National Speedway Stadium last night, with the meeting being of significant importance to Alun Rossiter’s Swindon side amid their delicate play-off position.

Swindon had to hope Belle Vue would slip up at home to the Rebels ahead of tonight’s meeting at the Abbey Stadium against the Aces to stand any hope of keeping their play-off dream alive.

However a last race 5-1 to the home secured all three points to the Aces, consequently dumping Swindon out of the play-off hunt with one fixture remaining.

It’s been a turbulent year for Alun Rossiter’s troops. Early home wins against King’s Lynn Stars and Belle Vue Aces coupled with away victories at Leicester and Poole put the Robins firmly in the driving seat as all seven Premiership sides chased a play-off spot.

But a severe injury to reserve Mitchell Davey signalled a change in fortune for the Robins, who failed to secure a win on the road from May onwards – a stat that ultimately cost Rossiter’s side a top four spot.

Home losses to Somerset and Belle Vue in the latter meetings of the season further dented Swindon’s ambitions to defend their Premiership Play-off title.

And their destiny was finally confirmed last night when Max Fricke and Craig Cook were awarded a 5-1 following Jason Doyle’s alarming crash while leading the concluding race of the night.

It means tonight’s meeting only has pride riding on it, though the Robins will be looking to establish some home form ahead of their home Knockout Cup semi-final clash against King’s Lynn on Monday, September 10.

Robins boss Rossiter said: “Our destiny was out of our hands.

“We only have ourselves to blame, it’s not down to anyone else. We have a team which was more than capable of finishing in the top four.

“The team spirit has been excellent, everyone has got on well, but for whatever reason we just haven’t all clicked together in terms of scores on enough occasions.

“It’s a big disappointment for us.”

The away lef of the cup semi final at King's Lynn has been set for Monday week (September 17).