Bird gives Witches reasons to be chirpy
DANNY Bird kept Ipswich Evening Star Witches in the hunt for some silverware – but at a price.The young British rider, who shares his duties with Premier League Isle of Wight, won a run-off over Scott Robson to win the home side the aggregate bonus point in last night's British League Cup fixture at Foxhall Stadium.
By Elvin King
Ipswich Witches 46
Rye House Rockets 44
DANNY Bird kept Ipswich Evening Star Witches in the hunt for some silverware – but at a price.
The young British rider, who shares his duties with Premier League Isle of Wight, won a run-off over Scott Robson to win the home side the aggregate bonus point in last night's British League Cup fixture at Foxhall Stadium.
The three points keeps Ipswich on course to qualify from their group for the quarter-finals after Arena Essex lost heavily at King's Lynn on Wednesday night.
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It was a close run thing with Premier League Rye House hitting back strongly in the latter stages with two 5-1's in the last four heats.
A drawn heat 15 – won by Robson – meant that Ipswich won the match by the same score as the Rockets did in the corresponding meeting at Hoddesdon.
This left Bird to gain revenge over Robson in a two-man run-off to take the valued extra point.
But Bird was immediately questioned by referee Chris Gay as he made his way back into the pits after suitable celebrations in front of a relieved Witches crowd.
Both machine examiners were also called into the discussion and Bird looks as though he will be fined for using a faulty dirt deflector.
He apologised to the referee and is keeping his fingers crossed that it does not lead to a loss of much of his hard earned income on a night when he showed his true worth as one of this country's most promising young riders.
Paul Hurry and Kim Jansson gave Bird decent support, but otherwise it was another disappointing display by the Witches.
However, a six-match losing run was ended that stretched back to King's Lynn's visit to Suffolk in this competition on July 10.
The Rockets from Rye House will argue that they would have won if rising star Edward Kennett had not been injured, as guest Chris Neath from Swindon failed to score.
And American Brent Werner was under the weather having been sick during the afternoon. A doctor's certificate – and the use of the rider replacement facility for the shaven-headed rider – would have also benefited the visitors.
But nothing should be taken away from Bird who provided the strong top end power Ipswich needed to keep their quarter-final hopes alive.
The Rockets were a three-man side, and Bird's win from the gate over Nigel Sadler in heat one proved crucial. Sadler cut inside Jansson on the second bend for second place.
Daniel King and Ben Howe failed to provide Ipswich with any real reserve scoring power although the former got off to a scary start when his engine cover caught fire as he waited at the tapes for heat two.
He was excluded and in heat three Robson scorched to his first win of the night.
Hurry passed Brett Woodifield on the third lap to win heat four as the Witches went into the lead.
Sadler gated to another impressive win in heat five, with first Daniel Nermark – lap one – and then Eriksson – lap three – passing Neath to make it a drawn race.
Bird and Jansson did the business in heat six, and when Hurry and King scored a 4-2 in the following race a comfortable Ipswich win was on the cards.
Jansson flew round the outside of the first corner to win heat eight, before the Rockets fired themselves up to mount a second half recovery.
Nermark touched the tapes in heat nine and Mark Courtney passed replacement King for the third place on lap three.
Ipswich looked on course for a
5-1 in the next outing until Robson found a way past Jansson on the last turn.
Hurry showed his class with a wonderful pass on Sadler in heat 11 – only for the Aussie to regain the lead in style on the following corner.
Woodifield and Robson were too good for Eriksson and Howe in heat 12, but Ipswich were always going to get a maximum in heat 13.
When Robson passed Nermark on the second lap of heat 14 to set up a 5-1 to the visitors, the match was back in the melting pot.
Robson won the final race from the tapes, with Hurry rushing past Sadler on the first and second bends to finish behind Bird in a drawn heat that confirmed Ipswich had won the meeting.
Bird had the inside gate in the run-off and made the first corner ahead.
Robson put in a determined effort going into the third bend, and Bird had to use all his skill and determination to hold his ground and emerge the winner.