Mike says: 5 things we learned about the Witches on a dramatic night
- Credit: Steve Waller -www.stephenwaller.com
Ipswich Witches kept their play-off hopes alive with a late and dramatic last-heat win over King's Lynn at Foxhall last night. MIKE BACON takes a look.
KINGS OF ANGLIA
That's three wins to the Witches and one to the Stars in the battle of the East Anglian derbies this season. Up to this clash all previous three meetings had been won by the away team.
However, the Witches put that sequence to bed, if only just, and can rightly say they have the bragging rights between the two clubs, whose rivalry goes back years.
But it was close. The Stars looked for a while they make just nick the win in the final heat, and certainly a draw.
Craig Cook and Danny King were magnificent for the Witches.
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They won eight of the first 14 heats between them, with some brave and gritty riding. It would have been a tragedy for both of them had they not seen it through in heat 15.
Then again, King completely missed the gate in that final race, while Cook, off gate four, was squeezed out, before both former British champions hurtled past Erik Riss to share the heat and claim the win for Ipswich.
The Witches have got to this point in the season riding virtually without a No.1
Jason Crump was starting to show the form everyone had hoped he could produce on his return to British Speedway after such a long time off as he revelled in the No.1 position.
However, since his crash at Wolverhampton back in May, on no less than FIVE occasions, guest riders in his absence have scored five points or less! Three of those meetings have ended in defeat for Ipswich. A fully-fit Crump would surely have scored more on each occasion.
Crump has bravely tried to come back a couple of times, but it hasn't worked out. Yet, he could still have a huge part to play should the Witches scrape into the play-offs.
Ipswich team boss Ritchie Hawkins said after the meeting: “We scraped through, got another win and kept our play-off hopes alive.
"It’s tough, we had 10 heat winners tonight and then other weeks we have not been having heat winners at all, and we have had seconds and thirds.
“Paul Starke had another great meeting at reserve, and he is riding really well. Having him in top form at reserve is really helping us.
"Danny King and Craig Cook were superb and it was a brilliant performance from them. The other day we relied on the reserves and tonight we have relied on our top two riders. It would be nice to get everyone going at the same time."
It's a big week for the Witches ahead with a daunting trip to Belle Vue on Monday night, where the Witches will be going with rider replacement if Crump is still unfit, as all the other teams are in action.
Then next Thursday, it's the Witches nearest challengers for the fourth and final play-off place, Sheffield, in town. The Witches won't want any last-heat deciders in that one, just a hefty win.
Wolves 10 27
Peterborough 10 26
Belle Vue 12 25
IPSWICH 14 18
Sheffield 10 14
King's Lynn 10 8