Witches are crushed by rampant Reading

IPSWICH Evening Star Witches turned in just the type of performance that will see them miss out on the play-offs this season.

By Mike Bacon

IPSWICH Evening Star Witches turned in just the type of performance that will see them miss out on the play-offs this season.

Out-fought and out-muscled by the rampant Reading Bulldogs, the visitors were out of this one by the end of heat two and only the combined efforts of captain Chris Louis and Mark Loram kept the score vaguely respectable.

Cruelly exposed at reserve and with too many riders flitting from one poor ride to one half-decent one, the Witches owed their many supporters who were on the final leg of a weekend speedway tour which included Saturday night's British Grand Prix, something better than this.

Seemingly, while the Witches' fans in the crowd did their best to rally their troops on the track, their cheers were clearly not being heard.

Admittedly Reading, using rider replacement for Janus Kolodziej which meant all their top riders could have an extra outing, were fired up and rode extremely well, but with bonus points likely to play a crucial part in deciding this season's play-off places, the Witches will have much to do to pull back this 19-point defeat.

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Louis and Loram apart, the rest of the side were ordinary.

There was no lack of effort, especially from the unlucky Kim Jansson who deserved far more than his three-point return, but Poles Robert Miskowiak and Pepe Protasiewicz were both inconsistent and disappointing, with Protasiewicz again on the receiving end of a 5-1 maximum in heat one as he was on Thursday against Coventry.

Jansson rode well in that first race with Protasiewicz at the back and led Greg Hancock for one lap before he was hauled in by both Reading riders, while Jan Jaros made a flying start in the next, only to crash out on turn four when ahead as the Witches, who began badly, were already 10-2 down.

Louis relieved the pressure in the next with a fine win and although Loram gained second place in heat four, the Witches were now ten points behind and virtually dead and buried.

There was no shortage of entertaining racing and Charlie Gjedde and Protasiewicz swapped places in heat five before Loram passed McGowan in the next.

Louis won a tactical ride in heat seven and with it picked up six points and the Witches' first heat advantage, but the visitors still trailed by 11 although Jansson was again in the thick of the action in the next.

However, he could only

finish third as Reading pressed home their advantage more.

Protasiewicz at last joined the party with his best race of the night with a tapes-to-flag victory in heat 11, while Miskowiak, who had looked so ordinary in his first three rides, shot from gate three to win heat 12.

It was all desperately frustrating as the Witches were finishing strongly and it was just a pity they hadn't begun in such determined fashion.

Jaros fell on the first turn in heat 14, but in the re-run did wonderfully well to gate ahead of Zagar and keep the Reading man on the outside as Louis sped to his third victory of the night.

The wonderful Loram produced the race of the night in the final heat, roaring round the outside of Hancock in breathtaking fashion on lap three, after stalking the American GP star all race.

It denied Hancock a maximum and showed just what a class rider Loram still is.

It was a sweet moment on an otherwise sour night for the Witches. More consistency is the key to success for this side because the talent is very much in abundance.

Peterborough will provide the sternest of tests on Thursday night at Foxhall, where it will be interesting to see if the Witches are able to bounce back from this poor display.

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