Poole play-off looms for Witches

Peterborough Panthers 52 Ipswich Witches 40It all points to the Ipswich Evening Star Witches travelling to Poole next Monday in the Elite League play-off semi-finals, after they lost at Peterborough tonight.

Mike Bacon

Peterborough Panthers 52

Ipswich Witches 40

It all points to the Ipswich Evening Star Witches travelling to Poole next Monday in the Elite League play-off semi-finals, after they lost at Peterborough tonight.

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Although it is still mathematically possible for the Suffolk side to overhaul Swindon, who tonight lost at Coventry, the Witches will need to win heavily against both Coventry and Poole at Foxhall Stadium on Thursday.

To win at all will be hard enough following the confirmation that Jarek Hampel, the Witches No. 1, will miss the meeting as he has been called back to Poland to ride in a re-arranged play-off match for his home town club, Leszno.

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“There is absolutely nothing we can do about the situation”, Witches captain Chris Louis said.

“We can try and make Jarek ride, but firstly he won't, and secondly the repercussions for him in Poland would probably see him banned from riding for us again this season.

“It's a big shame of course and one of the pitfalls of having a mainly Polish team because the PZM have no agreement with the BSPA over this type of ruling.”

Victory last night at Peterborough never looked on the cards on a track made heavy after an earlier shower and the Witches never got to grips with the situation.

In a meeting that saw all but one of the 15 heats won from the outside gates, it was the home side who took advantage of the situation, accumulating 11 heat winners as the Witches, already minus injury victim Tobi Kroner, also went into the match without Robert Miskowiak who cried off with an ear infection.

The home side took the initiative from the off with a 4-2 in the first race, although Chris Schramm and Steve Johnston managed to share heat 2.

Carl Wilkinson, who was promoted into the side, led for two laps in heat 3, before first Kenneth Bjerre and then Henning Bager flew past with the unfortunate Wilkinson spinning off on the final bend as Peterborough opened up an early six-point lead.

Already the outside gates were looking ominously good and Rory Schlein took full advantage in Heat 4 before the Witches fell 10 points behind with an out-of-sorts Piotr Swiderski struggling at the back.

But Ipswich hit back and in some style, with Schramm, off the outside gate, and Schlein leaving Sullivan in their wake, although the deficit was soon back at 10 two races later.

Schlein had a tactical ride in heat 9 but could only manage a second place behind the flying Bjerre and Sullivan was never troubled from gate four in the next, in a race that saw Schramm fall on the first turn.

Still 10 points down the Witches pulled two points back although Swiderski was fortunate to gain anything after Karol Zabik fell on lap three when in third place.

Bjerre passed Hampel to as good as clinch the meeting for the home side and although Schramm finished an excellent personal night fby winning heat 14, it was a disappointing night for the visiting side.

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