Witches ruthlessly crushed
Elite LeagueSwindon Robins 64 Ipswich Witches 28IPSWICH were ruthlessly crushed at Blunsdon last night as Swindon swept back to the top of the table - having taken a maximum seven possible league points from the Witches in four days.
Swindon Robins 64 Ipswich Witches 28
IPSWICH were ruthlessly crushed at Blunsdon last night as Swindon swept back to the top of the table - having taken a maximum seven possible league points from the Witches in four days.
Witches lined up without German star Tobias Kroner after his horror spill at Foxhall on Monday, but Slovenian ace Matej Zagar - involved in the same crash - declared himself fit to race after intensive physiotherapy.
Any hopes that the Witches might prove a handful for the home side painfully evaporated as the Robins cruised to easy 5-1 wins in all of the first four heats for a 20-4 scoreline for the home side.
Ipswich team boss Pete Simmons named Jarek Hampel for double points at the first opportunity but the Polish star was well beaten by Jurica Pavlic and Simon Stead and the scoreline was an embarrassing 30-6.
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Simmons then nominated Piotr Swiderski for double points in Heat 7, an obvious move with home debutant Richard Sweetman programmed in the race and he duly followed Zagar for second place, and four points to draw the race. This meant that reserves Dawid Stachyra and Carl Wilkinson, both well off the pace, would have to take extra rides.
Already riding a six-man team, Witches lost team member Danny King, who fell for the second time, and it was announced that he would be withdrawn from the remainder of the meeting due to concussion.
Leigh Lanham found his way to the front to become the first Ipswich race winner when Travis McGowan drifted very wide in the next, and Swiderski rode a good race to split the home pairing of Pavlic and Stead in Heat 9.
Witches got their second and last race winner of the night when Hampel made a fast start in Heat 11 and pulled out a big lead on Zagar, which the Slovenian wore down but was unable to make a passing move. In reality this was the only race of the night when Hampel looked a world-class performer.
Trailing 46-22, Witches had matched the Robins 16-16 between Heats 7 and 11, but then conceded three more 5-1s and only maximum points in the last race would see them even make the 30-point mark.
But Leigh Adams, who had suffered a rare engine failure while leading Heat 10, stormed to the front in the nominated riders' heat, though Swiderski and Hampel were able to keep the teenage Pavlic in last place.
In fairness, Swindon have taken a maximum three league points in all their home fixtures this year, but this was their highest tally on the night when they returned to replace Wolverhampton at the top of the league.
Witches' use of rider replacement for Kroner yielded little and King's withdrawal from the meeting didn't help their cause.
In general they looked weak and dispirited, and clearly some surgery on this side seems vital if they are to steer clear of the lower reaches of the Sky Sports Elite League.
Ipswich: Leigh Adams 11+1, Travis McGowan 8+3, Jurica Pavlic 10+2, Simon Stead 10, Matej Zagar 11, Richard Sweetman 5+2, Ryan Fisher 9+2.
Swindon: Jarek Hampel 7+1, Leigh Lanham 6, Tobias Kroner - rider replacement, Danny King 0, Piotr Swiderski10, Dawid Stachyra 3, Carl Wilkinson 2+1.