Witches hold clear the air meeting

THERE is little doubt a bit of pride is on the line tonight as Ipswich Witches try to race into the KO Cup semi-finals at the expense of Newport Wasps.

The Foxhall side, who would have hoped to travel to Wales with a 10 or even 20-point lead to defend, actually head across the Severn Bridge, six points behind their hosts, after Thursday’s poor first leg showing.

And while nothing is over until it’s over, the chances of the ‘Sackers’ Witches pulling off a seven-point or more victory are remote.

Especially so, with the unavailability of Lasse Bjerre (Danish U-21 meeting) and Mat Tresarrieu (Long Track meeting).

And while Rye House star, Nelson, comes in as a guest for Tresarrieu, and rider replacement is used for Bjerre, you would get generous odds on a Witches victory tonight.

Thursday night’s defeat to Newport was the second home loss on the trot, which is surprising considering some of the mammoth scores the Witches were racking up against opposition earlier in the season.

Of late the Witches appear to have lost their mojo.

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Their spark, the team camaraderie that was so evident early season has diminished. Quite where to pin-point what has gone wrong is not easy, but one suspects the injury to Morten Risager at Rye House back in early May started the downturn.

It wasn’t long before Chris Schramm’s season was over after a crash at Newport. And just to make things worse, skipper Kevin Doolan is looking anything but a Premier League No.1 right now.

In a clear-the-air meeting after the Newport loss on Thursday night, director Chris Louis and team boss Pete Simmons left their side in no doubt things need to improve.

“It was a very long meeting,” Louis said.

“I’ve helped all the riders individually, but this was time for me to express to them all what I thought of their racing – in front of the other riders.

“It had to be done.

“I wanted no excuses and I didn’t get any. They race on the best-prepared track in the League every week – and they admitted that. I expect us to go to Newport with an attitude that we can win.”

Tonight’s teams

Newport: 1 J Doyle, 2 J Sedgmen, 3 R Aspegren, 4 C Gjedde, 5 L Lanham, 6 M Jones, 7 T Kurtz

Ipswich: 1 K Doolan, 2 R/R, 3 Nelson, 4 M Risager, 5 T Poole, 6 C Mills, 7 J Hart

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