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Ipswich Witches keep KO Cup final hopes alive with 12-point loss at Sheffield Tigers

PUBLISHED: 22:20 12 October 2017 | UPDATED: 22:20 12 October 2017

Danny King led the Witches in Sheffield. Picture: STEVE WALLER

Danny King led the Witches in Sheffield. Picture: STEVE WALLER

© Copyright Stephen Waller

KO Cup semi-final first leg

Sheffield Tigers 51

Ipswich Witches 39

The Ipswich Witches will have to overcome a 12-point deficit tomorrow night if they are to reach the Championship KO Cup Final, writes Steve Waller.

Former Ipswich number one Ben Barker was back in action for the Witches. Picture: STEVE WALLER Former Ipswich number one Ben Barker was back in action for the Witches. Picture: STEVE WALLER

For much of the meeting the Suffolk side stayed in touch with their hosts in Sheffield before the meeting started to slip away in the latter stages.

After going 12 points behind, following a Tigers 4-2 in the twelfth, a 5-1 maximum in the thirteenth, from superb guest Ben Barker and skipper Danny King, brought them back to within eight, to give them hope.

However, Sheffield immediately hit back with their own maximum in the penultimate heat, before disaster struck with Barker crashing out heavily after hitting the curb in the final race.

Skipper King was awarded the win, thus keeping the Witches hopes alive ahead of the second leg at Foxhall tonight.

After two shared opening heats the Tigers got their noses in front with a 4-2 in heat three.

Barker then went from third to first in the next, to keep things tight, before the home side extended their lead to four points, following a battle at the back between Josh Bates and Nathan Greaves, in the fifth.

Barker won his second in the sixth, before the visitors lost Kyle Newman in a fall in the next. He walked back to the pits but took no further part in the meeting and is a doubt for the return clash.

With Cameron Heaps winning the rerun there was still only four in it, but home riders Jan Graversen and Todd Kurtz doubled this advantage with a 5-1 in heat eight and Lasse Bjerre passed Barker as the Tigers went ten up following a 4-2 in the ninth.

And two races later it was Bjerre who won again to stretch the advantage to 12.

The question of whether they Witches can overcome that deficit will be answered at Foxhall tomorrow night, where the two sides go head to head again, with a knock out final place awaiting the aggregate winners.

Scorers

Sheffield: S Nicholls 10+1, T Kurtz 6+2, L Bjerre 15+1, J Bates 7, J Graversen 10+3, G Wood 2+1

Ipswich: D King 13+1, C Heeps 8+1, K Newman 0, B Barker 11, N Greaves 4, C Mountain 3+1

Heat details

1: King, Kurtz, Nicholls, Heeps 61.6 3-3

2: Graversen, Greaves, Mountain, Wood 63.0 6-6

3: Bjerre, Heeps, Bates, Newman 62.4 10-8

4: Barker, Nicholls, Wood, Mountain 62.8 13-11

5: Bjerre, King, Bates, Greaves 62.0 17-13

6: Barker, Nicholls, Kurtz, Greaves 63.0 20-16

7: Heeps, Bjerre, Graversen, Newman (f.exc) 63.3 23-19

8: Graversen, Kurtz, Mountain, Greaves (ret) 63.1 28-20

9: Bjerre, Barker, Bates, Mountain 62.9 32-22

10: Nicholls, Greaves, Heeps, Kurtz 63.5 35-25

11: King, Kurtz, Graversen, Mountain 63.5 38-28

12: Bjerre, Heeps, Wood, Greaves 63.5 42-30

13: Barker, King, Bates, Nicholls 63.5 43-35

14: Bates, Graversen, Mountain, Greaves (Ret) 64.19 48-36

15: King, Nicholls, Bjerre, Barker (F.exc) Awarded 51-39

Ipswich Town boss Mick McCarthy spoke openly about his uncertain future at this morning’s press conference ahead of tomorrow’s Championship game at Preston. STUART WATSON posed the questions.

Mick McCarthy has confirmed striker David McGoldrick will not play again this season.

Mick McCarthy believes Luke Hyam needs to remain patient and push his case on the field as he enters the final few months of his Ipswich Town contract.

Mick McCarthy is hopeful Joe Garner will be fit to face former club Preston this weekend while a trio of youngsters could get a chance to impress at Deepdale.

Ipswich Town take on Preston North End, at Deepdale, on Saturday in what will be their third Championship game in seven days.

Ipswich Town travel to Preston North End for a third Championship game in seven days on Saturday. STUART WATSON previews the action.

Ipswich Town midfielder Luke Hyam knows he is playing for a future at the club he loves.

Ipswich Town defender Jonas Knudsen believes wins will come if the recent level of performances are replicated.

There was a sense a toxic atmosphere awaited manager Mick McCarthy as the Blues faced Cardiff following the weekend’s events at Norwich.

David McGoldrick is likely to miss the rest of the season after suffering a groin injury in training, raising the question of whether he has played his final game for Ipswich Town.

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