Cook: Hammers can win title

THE Lakeside Hammers will celebrate qualification for the Sky Sports Elite League Championship play-offs this Friday when local rivals Ipswich visit in the last league match of the season.

THE Lakeside Hammers will celebrate qualification for the Sky Sports Elite League Championship play-offs this Friday when local rivals Ipswich visit in the last league match of the season.

The Hammers' place in the final four was confirmed on Monday night when Peterborough only took one point from their visit to Belle Vue leaving the Panthers unable to finish above the Essex-based club, even if they were to win their final meeting away at Poole.

Now the club's promoters Stuart Douglas and Jon Cook are targeting a win on Friday to place the team in a fine third place position in the final table and send the team into the play-offs full of confidence.

Co-promoter Cook said: “It was certainly an exciting night of speedway on Monday watching Coventry lose at Eastbourne and then getting updates direct from Belle Vue, which fortunately for me and Stuart were ahead of the TV coverage


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“We both allowed ourselves mutual congratulations but now the really hard work starts as we need to fine tune our home performance and track set up in readiness for whoever awaits in the play-offs.”

Team owner Stuart Douglas said: “Everyone at the club should be rightly proud of our combined achievements over the last three seasons. To lift ourselves from rock bottom to fifth in year one and now have two consecutive play-off finishes would have been beyond our dreams at the start of 2007.

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“There are signs that this year's team is coming into top form at just the right time and we believe we could be the first team outside of a top two finish to take the play-off title.

“A win this coming Friday is a must and to add a second top three finish in two years is what this team deserve. It took Swindon 42 years to achieve their top spot I think we can safely say after three we are on course to beat that schedule.”

Friday's home match against Ipswich sees just one change in the Hammers line-up to the side that defeated Eastbourne last Friday.

Andrew Silver, the Hammers guest last week, is replaced by Birmingham's Rusty Harrison at reserve as Robert Mear and Phil Morris, the Hammers doubling up pair, both remain out injured.

The Ipswich side will see Polish rider Robert Miskowiak move up to No.1 following the introduction of the latest averages. The Pole missed the original attempt to stage this meeting two weeks ago due to illness.

Australian Troy Batchelor, GP rider Scott Nicholls and Daniel King complete the Witches top five with German Tobias Kroner still ruled out due to injury.

They will use the 'Rider Replacement' facility to cover his rides whereby Batchelor will be able to take an additional ride with the remaining three rides being covered by the reserves.

At this stage the Suffolk club have only named one reserve in Dawid Stachyra. The second reserve will have to be a guest as they will not be able to use either one of their doubling up rider Kozza Smith (injured) or Carl Wilkinson (riding the same evening for his Premier League side Scunthorpe) nor their No.8 Jerran Hart (also riding for Scunthorpe).

The action gets underway on Friday at the Hammers Arena-Essex Raceway at the usual start time of 8pm.

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