Big night ahead for Witches

SPEEDWAYPoole Pirates v Ipswich Evening Star WitchesElite League semi-final play-offBy Mike BaconIT'S Ipswich Evening Star Witches biggest fixture for four seasons and the money-spinning potential and glory is huge.

Mike Bacon

SPEEDWAY

Poole Pirates v Ipswich Evening Star Witches

Elite League semi-final play-off


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By Mike Bacon

IT'S Ipswich Evening Star Witches biggest fixture for four seasons and the money-spinning potential and glory is huge.

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John Louis' Suffolk outfit travel to Poole tonight and in front of a television audience hope to achieve what no Elite League club has achieved before, an away victory in the Elite League play-offs.

Since their inception in 2002, no away team has won in the semis on opposition track, although ironically it was the Witches, on their only other appearance in 2004, who came closest.

That balmy night in Wolverhampton, Witches No.1 Hans Andersen lost a run-off to home star Mikael Karlsson after a thrilling 45-all draw. It was the closest an away side has ever come.

So the odds are stacked against the Suffolk side but promoter Louis is hoping his team can all click.

“We've got a good team and we are very capable,” Louis said.

“If they all hit form together we can surprise Poole. We have won their in the past and at those times we have probably surprised ourselves, so we can only hope we surprise ourselves again.”

The Witches will be without the banned Jarek Hampel, and Peterborough's Kenneth Bjerre, who scored a maximum against the Witches last Monday and qualified for next season's GP series the week before, steps in as a guest.

“Our choices for a guest for Jarek were limited as only Eastbourne, Peterborough and Wolverhampton were open to us,” Louis added.

“Scott Nicholls' average was too high, but to be honest Kenneth is in the best form of his season right now, so we are very happy having him in.

“I just want the boys to be single-minded, put everything into this one meeting and we'll take things from there.”

The Witches victory over Poole on Thursday at Foxhall was a bit of shock for the Dorset side as Magnus Zetterstrom admitted.

“I think we just need to sharpen up before the play-offs,” the Swede said.

“You can talk about relaxing and not doing anything silly, but when you do that, that's when things go wrong.”

Talking about Witches' visit to Poole on Monday, Zetterstrom said: “It's nothing we're scared off.

“If we want to win the title, we have to beat the best teams, and we are also a strong team.

“Some of our riders didn't come up to scratch at Foxhall, but when we go back to Poole on Monday everyone will be back in their old groove again.”

Poole supremo Matt Ford is acutely aware Ipswich are one of only two sides to win at Wimborne Road in 2008. He added: "No away team has ever won a one-off play-off semi-final in seven years of Elite competition, but having won by 10 points at our place earlier in the summer, Ipswich will fancy their chances. It's up to our side to make amends this time to clinch a place in the final.”

Teams

Poole - Chris Holder, Magnus Zetterstrom, Bjarne Pedersen, Adam Skornick, Davey Watt, Freddie Eriksson, Daniel Davidsson

Ipswich - Piotr Swiderski, Tobi Kroner or R/R, Kenneth Bjerre, Robert Miskowiak, Rory Schlein, Steve Johnston, Chris Schramm

(N) Poole v Ipswich, Sky Sports 1, 7.30pm tonight

(N) Mike Bacon will be summariser on Radio Suffolk's coverage in Dorset tonight, from 7pm.

(N) Mike Bacon's blog Flyin' With The Witches www.eadt.co.uk blogs and opinions

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