Alarm bells ringing for Witches

Ipswich Witches 41 Eastbourne Eagles 50Eastbourne win bonus point 98-86IPSWICH Evening Star Witches lost for the fifth time in eight days - and this time the alarm bells are ringing.

Ipswich Witches 41 Eastbourne Eagles 50

Eastbourne win bonus point 98-86

IPSWICH Evening Star Witches lost for the fifth time in eight days - and this time the alarm bells are ringing.

There may have been extenuating circumstances for their previous defeats, but there can be no excuses for last night's Sky Bet Elite League performance at Foxhall Stadium.

It was a no way to mark the 20th anniversary of the death of Witches legend Billy Sanders, who died on April 23 1985.

If Ipswich carry on riding like this they will stand no chance of finishing in the top four and gaining a play-off place to decide the 2005 champions.

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From looking potential title winners after five straight wins, the situation has altered dramatically since they thrashed Wolverhampton in the Knock-Out Cup on April 7.

Riders are not lasting the full four laps with too many unnecessary crashes, and only skipper Chris Louis and Hans Andersen were anything like their normal selves against the Eastbourne Eagles

The Sussex side rode home with the aggregate bonus point after Ipswich undid all their hard work at Arlington last Saturday when they performed well to keep the Eastbourne winning margin to three points.

Will the newcomers in the Ipswich team be able to adapt to the big variation in tracks now that the Polish League season is in full swing - and the Swedish League is about to start?

Time will tell, but Karol Baran had the embarrassment of crashing into the fence on the parade before the start of the match!

And in heat one he looked comfortable in third place until he hit the fence on the second bend on the last lap.

Daniel King showed his potential when he motored beyond his two opponents coming out of the second bend to win race two, before Kim Jansson got off to a miserable start by being timed out of heat three.

Piotr Protasiewicz, who became a father for the second time on Tuesday, crashed on the first corner of heat four, and in the re-run Robert Miskowiak made the start but was easily passed by Nikki Pedersen and Davey Watt before the end of the first circuit.

Louis and Andersen then made it five Ipswich race winners in the first six heats, but because there was little back-up the scores were level.

King appeared to be hindered by Dean Barker when he lifted and took out a fence panel on the first lap of heat seven, with the impressive Adam Shields going round the outside of Protasiewicz on the second bend in the re-run.

Baran, after a slow start, suddenly found some speed and went beyond Andrew Moore for third place in heat eight, and Ipswich held the lead for the only time when Louis passed Pedersen and Jansson passed Allott both coming out of the second turn of heat nine.

Shields, who once memorably scored a 21-point maximum for the Eagles at Foxhall, whizzed round the outside of Andersen to win heat ten, with the Dane having to re-pass Dean Barker for second place.

King fell on the first turn, and Protasiewicz was overtaken by a superb Norris move on the last lap of heat 11 before disaster struck the Witches with the Eagles gaining a heat 12 5-1 with Barker passing Jansson on lap two.

And it got worse when Andersen snapped a primary chain when in a 5-1 position with Protasiewicz in heat 13. Protasiewicz then locked up and crashed on the third lap, with Norris doing a marvellous job laying down his bike to avoid a serious accident.

Louis chased the superb Shields while riding for double points in the penultimate race, and got within a foot.

This meant that Eastbourne had won by the final heat, which was a cracker. Shields went from first to last before re-taking Louis and Andersen did well to get beyond Shields - only to be passed by Norris at the same time!

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