Witches brought back down to earth

Sky Sports Elite LeagueIpswich Witches 44Poole Pirates 49IPSWICH Evening Star Witches came crashing down to earth with this defeat at Foxhall Stadium last night.

Sky Sports Elite League

Ipswich Witches 44

Poole Pirates 49

IPSWICH Evening Star Witches came crashing down to earth with this defeat at Foxhall Stadium last night.

They failed to master tricky conditions against a Poole side that gave notice that they are hell bent on making it a hat-trick of Sky Bet Elite League championships.

The Pirates, already winners at Eastbourne and Peterborough, became the first side to lower Ipswich's colours in the league this season.

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And this surprise result looked likely from the first two races when the Witches let a 4-2 and then a 5-1 slip from their grasp.

Persistent rain until 5pm hindered the usual thorough track preparation. The circuit was left until the rain ceased and then dry shale was spread on top.

This took away most of the home advantage, and Poole were in no mood to waste an opportunity of collecting two points.

Ipswich riders looked more hesitant than the visitors until the track was graded after heat nine, when the Witches made a partial recovery after at one time being 14 points adrift.

On reflection perhaps the track should have been re-graded earlier in a meeting where Ipswich lost their way.

Not too much should be read into this defeat though, as the slower than normal races did not suit Karol Baran and to a lesser extent Robert Miskowiak, while skipper Chris Louis was not fully fit after suffering a neck injury at Peterborough on Wednesday.

With Poole tracking the same top five that won them the title in 2004, Ipswich needed to score heavily against their reserves.

A 5-1 was a must in heat two, but it did not happen despite Daniel King and Miskowiak making the best start and leading until the final bend.

The Ipswich pair never looked settled, and Miskowiak went too wide and into the fence - giving Poole just the encouragement they needed to get themselves into gear.

Veteran Ray Morton and youngster Edward Kennett scored a paid 16 points between them - a terrific effort from the apparent Poole weak links

Heat one had seen Hans Andersen win in by far the fastest time of the night, with the following three riders coming back to the pits caked in dirt in the slimy and heavy conditions.

Krzysztof Kasprzak had passed an out-of-sorts Baran on the third lap for third place.

Every Witch bar Baran won at least one heat and it was Kim Jansson's turn in heat three when he partnered Louis to a 5-1, the first of only four home heat advantages of the night.

Ryan Sullivan and then Bjarne Pedersen ensured Poole stayed in touch with wins in heats four and five, and after Andersen had notched a good victory in race six, the meeting was turned on its head.

Antonio Lindback and Matej Ferjan found their feet to gain a comfortable 5-1 in heat seven before Baran ran into the back of Kasprzak on the second bend of heat eight.

In the re-run, Miskowiak gated, but when fellow Pole Kasprzak rode through powerfully on the inside on the entry to the third bend Miskowiak crashed.

Morton made the pass of the season when he burst round the outside of both Jansson and Louis on the third and fourth bends of heat nine. Jansson hit the deck on the last lap when third and Louis had to take severe avoiding action.

Andersen rode for double points in heat ten, but Poole riders finished first and second for the fourth race running.

Protasiewicz made the most of his tactical rider ride in heat 11 to give Ipswich a 7-2 before Miskowiak damaged fingers when he reared and went careering through a wooden fence panel coming out of the second bend after Ferjan locked up in front of him on the first lap.

Miskowiak showed what he is made of by winning the re-run after a long delay - with Jansson having Baran running beside him for company as he pushed his bike home for three-quarters of a lap after seizing an engine.

Louis and Protasiewicz enjoyed good wins in heats 14 and 15, but the back-up was not sufficient to enable Ipswich to stage a dramatic comeback.

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