Play-offs in their sights as Ipswich Witches see off the Panthers
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Witches 54 Peterborough Panthers 36
Ipswich Witches cemented their place in the Premiership play-offs after seeing off an injury-hit Peterborough Panthers at Foxhall Stadium tonight.
The Cambridgeshire side arrived in Suffolk with only two of their usual septet due mainly to injuries, but began the meeting well and indeed were ahead after heat five.
But the Witches got into their stride and took the meeting by the scruff of the neck mid-way.
It leaves them in a strong position to qualify for the play-offs, especially with Belle Vue losing at King's Lynn tonight.
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Not that the Witches started impressively against the Panthers, the visitors sharp from the start, Ulrich Ostergaard winning three of the first five heats.
But the home side got themselves together, every rider contributing to a solid victory on a night of some excellent racing.
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There was a welcome return to form for reserve Krystian Pieszczek, who only missed out on a paid 15-pt maximum when sliding off in the final heat while leading.
Jake Allen was another to impress as the Witches eventually took care of a make-shift Panthers side.
Ostergaard held off the attentions of Chris Harris and Richard Lawson in the opening heat before Pieszczek and Edward Kennett gated well in heat two, but Aaron Summers split them.
The Panthers took the lead in heat three with Ostergaard and Luke Becker showing aggression going into turn one leaving Cameron Heeps to give chase but without luck.
Scott Nicholls won the next as Panthers retained their two-point lead and Ostergaard won this third race in the first five heats as the Witches toiled out of the starts.
It was a titanic first lap of heat six with Harris and Lawson going either side of Nicholls as the Witches regained the lead.
Danny King and Pieszczek shot from the tapes in the next as the Witches went six ahead and at last looked to be settling down. Indeed it was three maximums on the bounce in heat eight and the Witches were heading for three points and heat nine was a corker.
Allen led from the start with Heeps at the back. But Heeps kept bravely ploughing the outside line to pass Nicholls and then Summers in thrilling fashion as the Witches made it four maximums on the bounce.
Lawson and Nicholls had a right good ding-dong in the next, the Ipswich man coming out on top as the Witches closed in on victory with another maximum in heat 11.
There was still time for Panthers to bang in a 5-1 in heat 12, but the Witches sealed the deal, with Harris winning heat 13 and Pieszczek was denied his full haul after sliding off when leading the final race.
1 Ostergaard, Harris, Lawson, Agertoft 56.7 3-3
2 Pieszczek, Summers, Kennett, Morley 57.0 7-5
3 Ostergaard, Becker, Heeps, Allen 56.9 8-10
4 Nicholls, King, Kennett, Morley 56.5 11-13
5 Ostergaard, Allen, Heeps, Agertoft 57.9 14-16
6 Harris, Lawson, Nicholls, Morley 56.2 19-17
7 Pieszczek, King, Summers, Becker 57.5 24-18
8 Lawson, Kennett, Summers, Ostergaard 56.9 29-19
9 Allen, Heeps, Summers, Nicholls 57.2 34-20
10 Lawson, Nicholls, Becker, Harris 57.7 37-23
11 King, Pieszczek, Summers, Ostergaard 42-24
12 Becker, Nicholls*, Heeps, Kennett 57.6 43-29
13 Harris, Nicholls, King, Agertoft 57.2 47-31
14 Pieszczek, Summers, Allen, Becker 57.7 51-33
15 Allen, Becker, Nicholls, Pieszczek (f) 57.7 54-36
Ipswich 3 pts. Peterborough 0 pts.
Ipswich: C Harris 8, R Lawson 9+2, C Heeps 5+2, J Allen 9, D King 8+1, K Pieszczek 11+1, E Kennett 4+2
Peterborough: N Agertoft 0, U Ostergaard 9, L Becker 8+2, R/R, S Nicholls 11+2, A Summers 8, B Morley 0.
Poole 18 39
Ipswich 20 39
Swindon 19 36
Belle Vue 22 35
Wolves 20 32
King's Lynn 19 29
Peterborough 20 17
Top 4 in play-offs