Cup win keeps Witches' season alive

IPSWICH WITCHES 53 KING'S LYNN STARS 37:IPSWICH Witches kept their season alive with a comfortable victory over their neighbours from Norfolk in the British League Cup at Foxhall Stadium last night.

By Mike Bacon


IPSWICH Witches kept their season alive with a comfortable victory over their neighbours from Norfolk in the British League Cup at Foxhall Stadium last night.

On a night of entertaining racing the home side showed plenty of fire and a fair amount of skill to beat their opponents with captain Paul Hurry leading the charge with 14 points.

Along with Danny Bird and Daniel Nermark, the Witches had too much strength in the top order and were well served by their second strings and young Daniel King at reserve, whose paid seven points were a delight to watch.

With the Elite League play-offs now out of the question, the Witches still harbour hope of success in this competition and they certainly have a strong enough team on paper to progress to the quarter-finals should they top their group or finish as one of the best three runners-up.

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Last night there was plenty of good racing and Ipswich grabbed the match in no uncertain terms with a strong second-half performance, scoring three 5-1 maximums in the last seven races and although the visitors kept it tight early on they had no answer by the end of the night.

This meeting was much on a par with a good Premier League clash and it will be interesting to gauge the fans' thoughts as the smiles returned to the home crowd in what turned out to be a good night for the Suffolk side.

There was one change to the Ipswich team with young Matthew Wright replacing Ben Howe, who broke down en route to Foxhall Stadium.

There was a decent crowd in for this important British League Cup fixture and they were enjoying the Foxhall sunshine on a perfect night for speedway.

Danny Bird got the home side off to a fine start with a good gate from grid two and Kim Jansson passed Thomas Suchanek coming out of the fourth bend on lap one as Ipswich took an early lead.

Daniel King produced a tidy manoeuvre coming out of the second bend to lead the reserves race.

But it was at the back where the action was as Wright passed James Brundle only for the Norfolk youngster to get him back as the heat was shared.

Heat three was a corker as Davey Watt led for two laps before Daniel Nermark forced his way through on the inside down the home straight at the beginning of lap three.

But Watt cut back superbly as the riders went shoulder to shoulder down the back straight and it was the visiting rider who got the drop as Lynn drew level.

Witches captain Paul Hurry was a comfortable winner of heat four and from the same outside gate Tomas Topinka won heat five.

King's Lynn were proving good value early on and Ipswich's hopes of hitting them hard early had not materialised with the scores level at 15-15.

But Ipswich went back into the lead in heat six with the first 5-1 of the night as Bird and a clearly delighted Jansson gated easily to victory.

Hurry produced a fine burst of speed around the outside of the fast-starting Watt on the second bend of the second lap one heat later as Ipswich took a six-point lead in their efforts to overturn a seven-point deficit from the first leg of this fixture back in May.

Topinka was brought in as a tactical substitute in heat eight and King replaced Wright for the Witches.

And although Topinka led, the Witches looked set for a drawn heat before King lost his primary chain on the second bend of the final lap and a 3-3 turned into a 4-2 for the visitors as the scores stood at 26-22 in the Witches' favour at the interval.

Eriksson and Nermark were far too quick for the Lynn pairing in the first race after the interval as the Witches stretched their lead to eight and Bird was looking different class in this company as he and Jansson thumped home another maximum with the effervescent Swede again punching the air with delight as he continued to impress.

Topinka won his third race of the night in heat 11 as King battled manfully with Suchanek at the back, gaining another important third place for the Witches over the Czech under-21 champion.

Eriksson battled hard in trying to pass Watt one heat later but it was Lynn who gained only their third heat advantage of the night to reduce the deficit to 10 at 41-31.

But Ipswich made sure of the night's victory as Bird skilfully trapped Topinka on the inside line as Hurry went round the outside and Ipswich led by 14 points with two heats to go.

Heat 14 was the one that gained Ipswich the all-important bonus point and what a race it produced. Nermark spent three and three-quarter laps plugging up the inside of Watt, who had gated away and there was nothing to separate them for much of this time.

Then on the final bend the Ipswich man switched lines to blast round the outside of the visiting star, gaining victory by inches on the line in a thrilling finish.

Bird was looking for a full score in the nominated riders heat but he was left with nowhere to go after a tight first bend although it was Hurry who raced away for victory and it was Ipswich who took all the spoils to please their fans who have been so devoid of victories like this all season.