Witches set sights on top three

IPSWICH Evening Star Witches need five more points to be certain of finishing above Eastbourne in the Sky Bet Elite League table.Their victory over Arena-Essex at Foxhall last night virtually confirmed a top-five play-off position for the Witches.

By Elvin King

IPSWICH Evening Star Witches need five more points to be certain of finishing above Eastbourne in the Sky Bet Elite League table.

Their victory over Arena-Essex at Foxhall last night virtually confirmed a top-five play-off position for the Witches.

But with the fourth and fifth finishers riding one-off away quarter-final matches, it is important to end in the top three.


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A victory by more than ten points over Peterborough at Foxhall Stadium next Thursday - and the collection of least the aggregate bonus point in tonight's match at Oxford and Wednesday's at Belle Vue - is certain to confirm this.

Poole have already done enough to finish top and they will be seeded through to the play-off final, while Wolverhampton are strong favourites to finish second.

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Witches promoter John Louis praised the efforts of Hans Andersen, who is in the middle of an eight meetings in nine days schedule.

“He was our hero,” said Louis. “He made two fantastic passes at crucial times.

“Scott Nicholls was exceptional and Chris Louis and Kim Jansson had an important 5-1 in race 14.

“Heats 13 and 15 were hard races and in the latter the plan was for Scott to get out and win and for Hans to grab the vital third place, which is what he did.”

Arena-Essex team manager Ronnie Russell had no complaints.

“Ipswich have an exceptional pair to sling at you in heats 13 and 15 - and this made the difference.

“It was sad to come away with nothing, but it was a good meeting and we put on a good show.

“We showed the potential that we have, and this performance bodes well if we return to Foxhall for the Knock-Out Cup semi-final.”

Kim Jansson is convinced the win will boost Ipswich's cause. “If we all fire together we are the best side in the league,” he said.

“We have brilliant riders in every position and now we look like having a chance to prove it.

“There was pressure on me when I replaced Daniel King in heat 14, particularly after my fall in my previous race, but I was confident I could do well.”

And Jesper B Jensen said he needed the help of others to raise his game after failing to score in his first two rides.

“I scored badly for Ipswich on Monday and failed to score a point in the Swedish League on Tuesday,” he said.

“I was on a low, but Chris and John Louis and my mechanic Lee Dixon talked me into better things. I was riding like an old man, but it all ended well enough.”

Meanwhile, Oxford Silver Machine promoter Nigel Wagstaff says that tonight's Sky Bet Elite League match against Ipswich at Cowley could be his last.

He has been told that speedway will have to be run in Oxford on Wednesday nights in 2005 instead of the traditional Fridays.

“This will not work as Poole, Arena Essex and Peterborough are going to all run on that night,” said Wagstaff. “It would be a financial disaster and this could be my last meeting in charge.”

Oxford turned in their worst performance of the season at Belle Vue on Wednesday when they were thrashed 57-38, but they are still fighting with Swindon for the final play-off place.

Belle Vue, who entertain Ipswich next Wednesday, used the rider replacement facility for new number two Ronnie Correy, who was unavailable.

Oxford use former Ipswich rider Tom P Madsen as Joonas Davidsson is on his way to Wroclaw, Poland for the world Under-21 final. Sebastian Ulamek is injured.

Ipswich, with ten straight away defeats, will be after at least the aggregate bonus point having won 55-38 in the corresponding B fixture at Foxhall Stadium.

Tonight's line-ups

Oxford: Rider replacement, T McGowan, R Fisher, R Dobrucki, G Hancock, TP Madsen, NK Iversen.

Ipswich: H Andersen, D Bird, JB Jensen, C Louis, S Nicholls, D King, K Jansson.

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