Smillie eyes second spot

TWO teams vying for third place in the Sky Bet Elite League table meet at Eastbourne tonight and in a return fixture at Foxhall Stadium, Ipswich on Thursday.

By Elvin King

TWO teams vying for third place in the Sky Bet Elite League table meet at Eastbourne tonight and in a return fixture at Foxhall Stadium, Ipswich on Thursday.

And Evening Star Witches team manager Mike Smillie has not given up hope of overtaking Wolverhampton and entering the play-offs in second spot behind Poole.

“We also ride at Poole on Wednesday and I know it is a tall order, but eight points this week and we will have every chance of finishing ahead of Wolves in the table,” said Smillie.


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“This would then give us home advantage in the one-off play-off quarter and semi-finals and would be a big boost.”

But Smillie would not be too despondent if Ipswich finished third. “The main thing is to finish in the top three as the clubs that finish fourth and fifth must ride away in the quarter-finals,” he added.

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“And if we were to win our first play-off match I would be confident that we could get a result at Wolves, who would be our likely semi-final opponents. We have done well twice at Monmore Green this year and have riders who like the track.”

Poole are set to take the substantial prize money for finishing top of the table at the cut-off date of in mid-September and they would then be seeded to the two-leg play-off final to decide the 2004 champions.

Eastbourne co-promoter Jon Cook views things differently to Smillie. He said today: “Poole and Wolves look certain to finish in the top two. And both us and Ipswich can ensure a qualifying place without having to join the dog-fight to see who will finish fifth.

“My game plan is to finish ahead of Ipswich and gain that vital third-place spot. This week's matches in football terms will be six-pointers.”

Injured Danny Bird would have missed tonight's match anyway - possibly why Eastbourne sought to ride the Witches on a Monday - because his Premier League side Reading are at home to Workington.

Stoke's Paul Pickering is set to make his Witches debut having been signed last month to act as the second floater to Bird in the Witches squad.

Tonight's line-ups

Eastbourne: D Norris, A Miedzinski, J Kylmakorpi, A Shields, N Pedersen, D Watt or A Moore, E Kennett.

Ipswich: H Andersen, K Jansson, JB Jensen, C Louis, S Nicholls, D King, P Pickering.

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