Second heat smash handicaps Witches
COVENTRY 55 IPSWICH 36IPSWICH suffered a disastrous night at Brandon as their hopes of taking their first away points of the season were effectively wrecked before the first two heats of the night were over.
COVENTRY 55 IPSWICH 36
IPSWICH suffered a disastrous night at Brandon as their hopes of taking their first away points of the season were effectively wrecked before the first two heats of the night were over.
Witches have yet to secure a point on their travels this season, a record which is hampering their bid to build on their solid home form to move towards the Elite League's top six.
A tough trip to Brandon was always likely to have been made more difficult by Coventry's weekend team change which saw former Ipswich star Scott Nicholls return to their line-up - a move which has generated huge discussion within the sport, and led to the Witches racing under protest.
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But all of that paled into virtual insignificance when both of their reserves were ruled out of the meeting in the second race.
Heat Two had already been brought to a stop when Coventry's Ricky Wells clipped Kozza Smith into the third bend and was disqualified.
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But worse was to follow in the re-run as, after Dawid Stachyra and Kozza Smith had made the start, they were hit by the Bees' Jordan Frampton, and all three riders fell heavily.
Stachyra was the worst affected as he suffered shoulder and leg damage, and although Smith was able to tentatively complete the re-run on his own, it was clear that he, too, was in no fit state to continue.
That forced the Witches into several races with only one competitor, and with the home heat-leaders happier on the very grippy surface, they romped away to victory - although there was no lack of effort from the visitors.
Piotr Swiderski gave Nicholls a fierce battle in Heat Six before the home No.1 moved clear, and Leigh Lanham then rode well two races later to just beat Filip Sitera to second place on the line.
Witches trailed by 13 points after Heat Nine and deployed Daniel King for a tactical ride in the next race. But the move only netted four points as he was edged out by Nicholls in the first half-lap.
The second tactical ride produced the race of the night in Heat 13 as Jarek Hampel outgated Nicholls and Chris Harris and eventually managed to split the pairing, with Harris maintaining his winning run.
But the Witches had no answer to another of their former riders, Rory Schlein, who completed a maximum in the last race with Harris also unbeaten after passing Hampel on the second lap.