Witches need helping Hans

It is proving to be the toughest week of the Ipswich Evening Star Witches' season so far.The World Cup that graced England last week and was supposed to be such a celebration of speedway has inadvertently left the Suffolk side with all manner of problems after the Hans Andersen controversy.

It is proving to be the toughest week of the Ipswich Evening Star Witches' season so far.

The World Cup that graced England last week and was supposed to be such a celebration of speedway has inadvertently left the Suffolk side with all manner of problems after the Hans Andersen controversy.

Andersen was missing again at Poole last night, although in fairness reports from Sweden have told of him being involved in a frightening crash with team-mate Peter Ljung.

To compound the Witches' problems even more, they were also without Jesper B Jensen who was told in no uncertain terms he was not allowed to miss a Danish League meeting in his home country.

Promoter John Louis admitted he was aware of Jensen's fixture clash but had left it with the Dane to try to get out of the meeting, but it was only this week that Jensen confirmed he would have to stay in Denmark.

It was all too late to reschedule last night's clash and Ipswich were only allowed to use a Conference League rider. By using a more senior guest they would have been breaking the rules which would have led to Jensen serving a ban.

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As it is, he will be back in the Witches' line-up for tonight's clash at home to Eastbourne and, quite frankly, he will not have been too sorry to have missed last night's meeting at Poole which was as big a non-event as you are likely to find.

Rain was falling an hour before the start and it didn't stop throughout with the managers eventually agreeing a postponement after heat 13.

It was a credit to both sides that the meeting got that far and although the track held up fairly well it was a poor meeting with little or no passing and gating paramount.

Ipswich were well served by skipper Scott Nicholls who raced to a brilliant 18-point maximum and was in a completely different class to anybody else on show.

Twice in his five rides he failed to make the start but came through in style and it certainly would have been an interesting bout had Andersen and Jensen been in the Ipswich pits.

Poole picked up the bonus point as well as the two points for victory to stretch their lead at the top of the Elite League, while the Witches are now embroiled in a real scramble for the three final play-off positions with Wolverhampton already likely to take one of the spots.

Bjarne Pedersen got the home side off to a good start in the first race and Paul Pickering made a good gate from the outside in the next heat, only to slide off into the mud on the third turn and be excluded.

Poole hammered home a maximum in that race and in the next, with Conference League rider Tom Brown having taken Jensen's place in the side.

Nicholls won heat four, cutting back on Magnus Zetterstrom on the second turn, with Pickering battling hard to hold off Ryan Sullivan.

Antonio Lindback crashed on the first turn of the next heat but referee Clarke put all four riders back as Poole scored their third maximum in the first five heats.

Daniel King fought bravely for his third place in heat six as Ipswich reduced the arrears but the home side was soon back on top before Nicholls scored six points in a winning a tactical ride in heat nine.

The Ipswich captain was in awesome form and, after stalking Sullivan for two laps in heat 11, he flew up the inside of the Australian to score his fourth win of the night before making it five out of five in heat 13.

By now the rain, which hadn't stopped throughout the meeting, was now coming down harder and it was a relief to all concerned when the match was abandoned.

Certainly tonight's meeting at Foxhall Stadium against Eastbourne takes on immense importance for the Suffolk side who just cannot afford to go through the week without picking up some reward.

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