Under-strength Witches lose to Eagles

Eastbourne Eagles 50 Ipswich Witches 40DEPLETED Ipswich Evening Star Witches gave a good account of themselves at Eastbourne last night but had to admit defeat to the lowly side from Sussex.

DEPLETED Ipswich Evening Star Witches gave a good account of themselves at Eastbourne last night but had to admit defeat to the lowly side from Sussex.

Victory for the visitors in this Sky Bet Elite League fixture would have given them their fifth away success of the season but they were unable to find the strength in depth to compete until the very end without number one rider Scott Nicholls and also in-form second string Danny Bird.

Three of the Witches team were paying their first visit to the tricky, tight Arlington circuit which did not help the Ipswich cause on a night when they used the rider replacement facility for the injured Nicholls.

This accrued nine points and with their top three of Hans Andersen, Jesper B Jensen and Chris Louis doing as well as expected the Witches were only two points down with four races left.

Then the wheels come off somewhat and it may have been beneficial if they had conceded a 5-1 in heat 13 which would have put them eight points behind.

This would have meant that acting-skipper Louis could have been used as a tactical rider in the penultimate race when his victory would have meant double points and the Witches three points down going into the final heat.

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The last race proved a big gain for the Eagles as world champion Nicki Pedersen was able to follow home David Norris and stretch the home victory to ten points.

Kim Jansson and Daniel King both enjoyed a good night and made their presence felt on their first races at Eastbourne, although Trevor Harding was not in the same class on his first outing at the Sussex circuit.

Ipswich will now have a difficult job to win the aggregate bonus point when Eastbourne visit Foxhall Stadium on Thursday in a meeting when Nicholls hopes to make his return to the track.

He is due to see his specialist tomorrow.

Andersen and Jansson got Ipswich off to a perfect start but heat two saw the scores levelled when King gated but fell on the third bend. Harding also came to grief on the third lap.

Heat three saw Joonas Kylmakorpi pass Louis on the fourth turn with Jensen then going round the outside superbly off Norris on the third lap.

The following heat saw Louis make a flying start but Pedersen went round the outside on the fourth bend with Harding suffering an engine failure when last on the last lap.

Heat five saw Norris change bikes and win from the tapes in a fast time, and Andersen had to pass Kylmakorpi to gain second place.

Jensen then forced his way to the front at the first bend of heat six, but King was chasing Ulrich Ostergaard when he spun off on the third turn before remounting.

Heat seven and Eagles were in a 5-1 position until Jensen passed Pedersen on the third turn and then went round the outside of guest Brent Werner on the second lap. Louis showed his determination by passing Pedersen on the final circuit.

Heat eight saw Jansson and King gain a significant maximum win, doing the job twice with Ostergaard hitting the fence on the third turn at the first attempt.

The in-form Norris won heat nine with Harding being passed by Kylmakorpi on the third circuit. Ipswich then suffered a blow in a heat ten where they expected to do well with Jensen crashing on the fourth turn and wheeling his bike off the track in a race where Louis cut inside Werner for second place on the final corner.

Jansson charged into Pedersen going into the first bend of heat 11 but he ended up last in a race won well by Andersen.

Both Ipswich riders past Werner on the back straight of heat 12 but the American got the better of King on the next lap.

The visitors made a good start in heat 13 but Andersen was last by the second lap, with Pedersen going beyond the impressive Jansson on the third circuit.

Heat 14 saw Louis pass Kylmakorpi on the third lap - and then just beat the home rider by an inch on the line.

Then came a 5-1 to the home team that gave the final scoreline a rather unfair reflection on the way that an understrength Ipswich had performed in an entertaining meeting.

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