Witches are riding for their places

IPSWICH Witches riders will be riding for their long-term futures at Foxhall Stadium when they take on Poole Pirates in the Elite League tonight (start 7.

Elvin King

IPSWICH Witches riders will be riding for their long-term futures at Foxhall Stadium when they take on Poole Pirates in the Elite League tonight (start 7.30pm).

Witches skipper Leigh Lanham plans to have a spin after tonight's meeting, and if he comes though okay he will be back in the team for the home fixture against Wolverhampton next Thursday.

Pete Simmons, the Ipswich team manager, said: “If Leigh feels he can hold on after his hand injury he will come back into the team against Wolves.

“This means that a decision will have to be made, and tonight's displays will be taken into account.

“After a slow start to the season the riders are aware of the situation.”

Most Read

Morten Risager came into the team to replace Lanham on a short-term basis, but with Tobi Kroner and a couple of others struggling to make an impact it remains to be seen who Lanham will replace in a re-declared one to seven.

Poole have struggled this season and suffered a huge home defeat to Coventry last Wednesday. “This makes our two-point home reverse to the Bees look not too bad,” added Simmons.

“But it was still disappointing of course to lose that meeting, and we need points tonight to lift ourselves off the foot of the table.

“Bjarne Pedersen and Chris Holder both ride Foxhall well, and if they score 25 to 30 points between them the rest will not have to come up with too many points to give us problems.

“We failed to get the lads riding well at the same time at Belle Vue on Monday, and the 13-point defeat gives us plenty to do in the home leg of the first round KO Cup tie next month.

“It can be done, but we will need to be at our best - and a win tonight will give the riders a confidence boost.”

The Witches were meant to be riding the return at Poole next Wednesday, but this has been postponed because of Champions League football on television.

Kozza Smith, who suffered a collapsed lung and several broken bones in an opening night crash - the same meeting as Lanham was also taken to hospital - is expected to start riding again in a couple of weeks.

“Carl Wilkinson is doing a great job for us, and we will see how Kozza goes with King's Lynn in the Premier League before calling him back into our line-up,” said Simmons.

Former Witch Paul Hurry has been called out of speedway retirement to ride for 2008 champions Pirates at reserve.

Poole's Neil Middleditch was left disappointed by the Pirates' second-half collapse at Wolverhampton on Monday that left the Pirates without a point from four meetings in six days.

Middleditch said: “Once again we lost our way after getting ourselves into a good position early on. We were in with a chance of taking something from this match, but seemingly fell apart midway through the match when there were only two points between the teams.

“Of course it's a disappointing time for us and our fans, but we haven't given up our hopes of retaining our league title.

“The season has only just started and there is still time for us to rebuild and get back into the championship fight.”

Tonight's line-ups

Ipswich: J Hampel, M Risager, T Kroner, D King, P Swiderski, D Stachyra, C Wilkinson.

Poole: B Pedersen, AN Other, J Screen, D Davidsson, C Holder, T Piszcz, P Hurry.