Ipswich Witches’ League Cup hopes are over after narrow loss at Sheffield

Danny King, left and Chris Louis

Danny King, left and Chris Louis - Credit: Picture: Steve Waller

Ipswich Witches’ League Cup hopes were put to bed after they were beaten at Sheffield Tigers last night.

The visitors pushed the home side all the way with impressive performances from Danny King, Lewis Kerr and Nico Covatti in particular.

With home No.1 Simon Stead having a quiet night and British U21 champion Josh Bates also struggling, the Witches failed to take advantage – their reserves again being outscored by the opposition reserves.

Covatti and King grabbed a final race 5-1 to grab Ipswich a bonus point, but it wasn’t enough, as Sheffield topped the midland group.

“To be honest, I’m disappointed to come away with just a point,” team manager Ritchie Hawkins said.

“The effort and commitment from the team was first class. I’ve told them to use the League Cup for improving meeting by meeting and they are doing that.

“Darryl Ritchings is getting better and better each race. I can see it. It’s a tough place to come. I have no criticism of the team.”

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The Witches got off to the perfect start as King and James Sarjeant gated to the front, with Sheffield captain Stead suffering engine failure while in third.

It was an Ipswich 5-1, but that was reversed in the next as the Tigers’ reserves evened up the score.

Bates was out in front in heat three but drifted wide and was passed by everyone in the race.

Kerr won heat three and Covatti passed Nathan Greaves in the next.

King passed Kyle Howarth on the outside on lap one as Bates fell at the back and Covatti almost caught Dimitri Berge in heat six as the scores remained level.

The Witches looked to be heading into the lead in heat seven as Kerr and Morten Risager gated to the front. But Risager fell on bend four.

Sarjeant passed Greaves as Sheffield took the lead for the first time on the night.

The Witches heat leaders were scoring well, but reserves Paco Castagna and Ritchings were not getting in the points as Covatti won heat nine. Berge was having a great night and he teamed up with Stead for a 5-1 to put daylight between the Tigers and the Witches as the home side led 33-27 with five to go.

King remained unbeaten with another impressive win in heat 11 as Hall passed Sarjeant.

Ritchings made a great start in heat 12 but was passed by Howarth as Kerr crashed out at the back. He was up ok but the Witches were now in trouble at 40-32 down.

Stead guaranteed Tigers at least a draw in the next as he lowered King’s colours for the first time on the night.

Risager won heat 14 but with the Tigers taking the minor placings, the game was up for the Witches as Sheffield moved into the semi-finals.

Sheffield 47: Dimitri Berge 10, Kyle Howarth 9+1, Jason Garrity 7, Richard Hall 6+3, Simon Stead 6+1, Nathan Greaves 5+1, Josh Bates 4

Ipswich 43: Danny King 13+1, Nico Covatti 11+1, Lewis Kerr 7, James Sarjeant 5+1, Morten Risager 4, Darryl Ritchings 3, Paco Castagna 0

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