Leigh looks to dent Witches' hopes

LEIGH Lanham lines up against his old team tonight hoping to put a spoke in The Ipswich Evening Star Witches' hopes of play-off glory.The Ipswich-based rider, who celebrates a testimonial at Arena Essex on Friday, September 10, has moved into the main body of the Arena side in the past month.

LEIGH Lanham lines up against his old team tonight hoping to put a spoke in The Ipswich Evening Star Witches' hopes of play-off glory.

The Ipswich-based rider, who celebrates a testimonial at Arena Essex on Friday, September 10, has moved into the main body of the Arena side in the past month. And he warned Ipswich fans that the Hammers are a different proposition to the one Ipswich beat by six points at Purfleet back in May.

“We have a good team spirit, but we know it will be tough against Ipswich,” he said last night.

“Since we lost to them in May, we are going better, with Paul Hurry at reserve where he and Josh Larsen are scoring well.

“Personally I've found the number three position a bit tough, but I move down to reserve again after tonight's meeting, so I would like to finish my stint in the main body of the team with a bang.

“Ipswich are a good side though and in Hans Andersen and Jesper B Jensen have two good gaters, while Scott Nicholls will want to have a good meeting after missing out with injury at our place last time.”

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Witches' skipper Nicholls admitted last night it would be a “massive disappointment” if Ipswich didn't make the play-offs after such a great start to the season.

The Witches' captain, who celebrates a testimonial meeting on Saturday, July 24, knows it is a crucial 48 hours for the Foxhall club who face two tough away trips, starting tonight at Arena, followed by another away clash at Swindon tomorrow.

A victory from either meeting would be a good return for the men from Foxhall with Nicholls aware four defeats in their last five Elite League clashes has not helped the Witches' chances of play-off glory.

“We'll be massively disappointed if we don't at least make the play-offs,” said Nicholls.

“After the start we made, the play-offs is the least we are expecting and I am confident we will still be in there with a shout.

“Everyone seems to be clicking a bit more now and our home win over Swindon in our last meeting was important.”

Ipswich are still third in the Elite League but are now looking over their shoulders at Oxford, tonight's opponents, Arena Essex and Eastbourne.

Nicholls was involved in a couple of high-speed crashes in Denmark at the weekend during the Danish GP.

He pulled out of his meeting in Sweden last night in order to rest a battered and sore ankle.

“I think it is fair to say I've had my fair share of injuries this season,” he said. “My ankle is black and blue, but won't affect my riding for Ipswich tonight and tomorrow. I pulled out of the Sweden meeting just to make sure.”

Ipswich are at full strength tonight, while Arena will be without the injured Kelvin Tatum.

Greg Walasek is another missing for the Essex side - being banned for one match after failing to ride in the Hammers' trip to Eastbourne recently because of a fixture clash in Poland.

They will use rider replacement for Tatum and Henning Bager will guest for Walasek.

The Witches won at Arena back in May by six points, with Andersen top-scoring for the Suffolk side with 14 points.

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