Bulldog spirit wins it for visitors

IPSWICH Witches lost their first Sky Sports Elite League home meeting of the season 47-43 in a thrilling encounter against Reading last night.The Berkshire side might be the new boys in the League this season, but they are showing no mercy on their travels and this victory at Foxhall last night, richly deserved, comes hard on the heels of wins at Peterborough and Coventry.

By Mike Bacon

IPSWICH Witches lost their first Sky Sports Elite League home meeting of the season 47-43 in a thrilling encounter against Reading last night.

The Berkshire side might be the new boys in the League this season, but they are showing no mercy on their travels and this victory at Foxhall last night, richly deserved, comes hard on the heels of wins at Peterborough and Coventry.

The Witches only have themselves to blame as they were far too slow from the start at the beginning of the meeting. It was not until Pepe Protasiewicz won heat five that they produced their first heat winner and it was not until heat nine that they produced their first heat advantage.


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At one time the scores drew level at 27-27, but it was a false dawn and with skipper Chris Louis, who had been sidelined with flu earlier this week, well below par, the Witches needed their second strings and reserves to come up trumps.

Only Danny King did his job and he, along with Mark Loram and Protasiewicz, can be satisfied with their night's work.

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But Ipswich are going to have to take a serious look at their gating, especially at home, because although this was a cracking speedway meeting with plenty of overtaking, too many defeats like this will not bode well for the season ahead.

Greg Hancock had won the opening heat with Louis unselfishly waiting for Jansson as Andy Smith tried hard to split the Witches pair.

That was to no avail, but the Bulldogs struck early in heat two, with Sam Simota and Janusz Kolodziej gating for a 5-1 maximum.

The Witches needed to hit back quickly, but it was Travis McGowan who made it three visiting heat winners in succession as Reading held an early lead of 11-7.

Heat four was a cracker as Kolodziej led Loram for four pulsating laps. The Ipswich man tried everything to pass the Pole, and they went over the line side-by-side after a last-ditch effort from Loram, but referee Mick Bates gave the nod to Kolodziej, although it was mighty close.

It was becoming a touch of déjà vu for the Witches, as, like Swindon last week, they could not provide an early heat winner on their own track.

Fortunately for the home fans, Protasiewicz at last managed that, but with Robert Miskowiak unable to take advantage of Smith's numerous errors, the Witches still trailed by four at 17-13.

Gjedde won the next before there was another cracking race in heat seven. Again it involved Loram, who stalked and then passed an impressive McGowan down the back straight on lap three.

But just as Witches fans were hoping for their side's first heat advantage of the night, Matej Zagar passed Jaros on the final bend.

It was another drawn heat, and after Jansson was excluded for failing to make the two minutes in heat eight, Smith made it six heat wins out of eight for the visitors - and incredibly he became the sixth visiting rider of the night to pass the chequered flag.

The Witches were in desperate need of some inspiration and Protasiewicz, with a fine first turn, produced it as he got Miskowiak through for a much-needed 5-1 maximum for the home side.

It brought the scores level, but Louis made an atrocious start in the next and the Witches again found themselves two points behind with McGowan winning his second race of the night.

Loram made a hard first turn in heat 11 and Smith pulled a cute manoeuvre on Jaros down the back straight as the Bulldogs shared another heat and led 34-32 as the match edged towards the final stages.

The first race after the interval was just what the doctor ordered for the Witches as King rode superbly around the outside to join Protasiewicz for a 5-1 and for the first time in the meeting the Witches were ahead at 37-35.

Hancock won the next and Louis, who was passed by Gjedde, got the Dane back on the final bend to share the spoils in another cracking heat of speedway.

But Reading refused to lie down and when Kolodziej held off the attentions of King on lap one, he and Zagar coasted to a 5-1 maximum in the penultimate heat which meant the Bulldogs took a two-point lead into the final race.

With their American Grand Prix star Hancock on the inside gate, the Bulldogs were confident of victory and so it proved, with Loram managing to battle past McGowan, but with Hancock well ahead, the meeting was deservedly won by the Bulldogs.

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