Witches on track for cup victory

JON Cook, team manager of Eastbourne Eagles, believes the nine- point deficit should be easily overcome in the second leg, after his team lost last night's eventful Knock-Out Cup meeting at Foxhall Stadium.

JON Cook, team manager of Eastbourne Eagles, believes the nine- point deficit should be easily overcome in the second leg, after his team lost last night's eventful Knock-Out Cup meeting at Foxhall Stadium.

Cook places his confident prediction on the basis that few of the Witches team ride the Arlington circuit in Sussex very well.

"Scott Nicholls and Chris Louis do, but we should not expect too much trouble from the rest of the Ipswich side," continued Cook, who was left seething after world champion Nicki Pedersen was excluded from heat five when he was riding for double points as a tactical rider.

"I am sure we will go through to the next round, but we had to work hard tonight. I am proud of my team as we were badly served by the referee.

"I do not ask for any luck, but I do ask for fairness. Jesper B Jensen apologised to Nicki Pedersen for riding into him – yet the referee excludes my rider. It was an impossible decision to take and I made my feelings known to the referee."

This lucrative competition means so much, so consequently there was a lot of tension in a meeting where Ipswich looked to be heading for a comfortable aggregate win when they led by 16 points after six races.

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The second leg should have been tomorrow, but Eastbourne have re-arranged last weekend's rained-off meeting against Arena Essex and it could now be some while before it is staged.

The first race was a red letter one for Danny Bird as he flew inside Pedersen on the fourth bend to follow home team-mate Hans Andersen.

Kim Jansson showed his worth to the side by winning the reserves' race with Daniel King and Peter Ljung having a ding-dong battle behind.

Eastbourne were heading for a 5-1 in the next outing when Jensen burst inside Joonas Kylmakorpi going into the third bend. The flying Finn lost control and slid at speed right under the new air fence.

The fence was ripped and had to be replaced while Kylmakorpi hobbled back to the pits after going right through to the stock car track.

After a long wait to pump up a new section of fence, David Norris won the re-run from the tapes. Jansson was again on song in heat four when he expertly manoeuvred his way around the first two bends to follow home Scott Nicholls.

Heat five saw Ipswich go 14 points ahead, but not until another section of air fence had been replaced. This was not ripped so badly, but was still damaged far too easily when Pedersen slid off.

The referee deemed the world champion to be at fault when Jensen tried to pass inside although it must have been a marginal decision.

Pedersen made his feelings known to the referee via the pits telephone, before Ipswich gained their third 5-1 of the night in the

re-run.

By now it was raining and Cook persuaded the referee to call a halt. But after coming down to the track, Mr Steele was happy to continue and the rain soon eased off.

Adam Shields passed Bird on the fourth bend for second place as Ipswich increased their lead by two points in heat six.

It looked as though it might turn into a rout until Norris and Kylmakorpi combined for a visitors 5-1 in heat six.

An impressive Chris Louis showed his pre-injury form when he roared round the outside of the opening two bends to win heat nine, before Foxhall Stadium recorded what must be its first 4-4 in over 50 years of staging speedway.

Norris rode as a tactical rider and collected four points for finishing second in a race that went on for five laps after a misjudgment by the starting officials. The result stood after four laps.

Pedersen then held off Nicholls on the first two bends to win heat 11, and Kylmakorpi was first to the chequered flag in heat 12.

Pedersen again held off Nicholls in heat 13, with Andersen and Shields swapping places three times at the back in the final two circuits.

Cook played his last card in heat 14 with Kylmakorpi starting 15 metres adrift with his points counting double. He passed Jansson by the end of the second lap but was just held off by Louis in a race won by Norris.

Nicholls did exceptionally well to get the better of Pedersen on the second bend of the final heat and Ipswich were fortunate when Norris stopped when third on the third lap to turn a 3-3 into a 4-2.

The new tactical rider rules certainly hinder sides who start well and with tactical substitute scores also counting double, double figure leads can now easily be pulled back.

So despite Cook's confidence, Ipswich should be able to keep their noses in front and win on aggregate when the second leg eventually takes place.

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