Witches close to snatching victory

Ipswich Witches lost 47-43 at Peterborough in a Craven Shield meeting tonight.

Craven Shield: Peterborough Panthers 47 Ipswich Witches 43

LED by a superb display Piotr Swiderski, Ipswich Evening Star Witches went close to snatching victory at Peterborough tonight.

On a track where they have failed to show any sort of form in recent years, the 2008 Witches served notice that they can be force in Elite League speedway this year.

And the standard of their three meetings in the Craven Shield so far confirm that fans are going to be for closer meetings and better entertainment than over the previous two campaigns.

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Jarek Hampel only had his number one bike firing fully in his final ride while Robert Miskwaik was still not 100% fit. Otherwise Ipswich could easily have toppled the Panthers. An engine failure in Hampel's first ride deprived the Witches of vital points.

If Ipswich beat Peterborough at home on Thursday, their victory at Lakeside last Friday could see the Witches qualify for the next stage on race points difference.

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Swiderski got off to a flying start when he had the Witches fans in the stadium on their feet as he swept past the usually unbeatable Hans Andersen at the Showground. The Pole also took Sam Simota in the same inside movement.

This stunned the home crowd and set the stall for the meeting with Swiderski showing the Peterborough management the error in their ways of letting him go on loan to Ipswich this year.

The Witches then got themselves into early gear with Tobi Kroner and Chris Schramm gaining a 5-1 in the reserves' race from the starting tapes.

The Panthers hit back straight away with a 5-1 of their own as a snow shower hit the East of England showground.

And the home side built up a four point lead in the next race when Jarek Hampel suffered a machine problem on the final circuit to allow Daniel King to take second place behind Clause Vissing.

Ipswich reduced the deficit in heat five when Swiderski won from the tapes and Robert Miskowiak held n comfortable for third place.

In the following outing, King won from the start ahead of Chris Louis and Steve Johnston, before a determined Ipswich camp pulled level in heat eight when Swiderski again won by a country mile having pushed Simota wide on his sweep round the opening two bends. Schramm was passed by Vissing on the fourth bend, but still pocketed a vital point.

Kenneth Bjerre took the chequered flag in heat nine, with Hampel - riding Louis' machine - second and Kroner an impressive third after holding off Morten Risager in style on the last circuit.

In the final race before the interval as further snow showers held off, Andersen went flying round the outside on the opening two bends to go beyond the fast-gating Louis and Johnston in another drawn heat.

Another 3-3 followed in heat 11 when Swiderski showed his pedigree when he took the Andersen route round the outside of the first two bends to pass King down the back straight and go on chalk up his fourth consecutive victory.

This has not always been Louis' favourite track, but he threw back the years to produce a stunning piece of speedway when he held off a challenge of Claus Vissing down the back straight to the catch Bjerre out with a stunning inside pass on the first bend of the second lap.

This kept the scores level with Kroner coming in for an out of sorts Miskowiak in heat 13. The Panthers put their noses in front when Andersen won well and King went beyond a gallant Kroner on the third lap.

The penultimate race saw Vissing come in for Moller and lead down the back straight ahead of Steve Johnston. Schramm was battling with Risager for the third place and when the Dane ran out of room down the back straight he took a tumble when he collided with Schramm.

After some deliberation the referee decided to exclude the Ipswich rider, which was a rather suspect decision although probably right.

Schramm's exclusion effectively ended the visitors' hopes of pulling off their second surprise away win in succession having whipped Lakeside at Purfleet on Good Friday evening.

In the re-run, however, Johnston had other ideas when he kept the Witches hopes alive with a fine break from the tapes to speed ahead and win comfortably after holding Vissing off on the third bend.

Andersen has always been the rider for the big occasion, and he made the quickest start by anybody on the night from the inside grid to deny Swiderski a maximum. Louis and Bjerre battled away for the third place with the home rider coming out on top so that the Panthers managed to stretch their winning lead to four points.

Peterborough: H. Andersen 14, S Simota 1(1), K Bjerre 11, M Risager 3(2), D King 8(1) , H Moller 1(1) , C Vissing 9(1).

Ipswich: R Miskowiak 1, P Swiderski 14, C Louis 8, S Johnston 5(2), J Hampel 5(1), T Kroner 6(1), C Schramm 4(1).

Referee: Tony Steele

Conditions: Better than usual at Peterborough.

Attendance: 1,100

Witches rider of the night: Piotr Swiderski - back at his former club with a point to prove.

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