New Ipswich Town boss Paul Hurst watches on as Hawkins heaps praise on his winning Witches
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Witches 51 Lakeside Hammers 39
Ipswich Witches produced a fine performance to see off high-flying Lakeside Hammers 51-39 at Foxhall Stadium tonight – and all in front of new Ipswich Town boss Paul Hurst.
Hurst was at Foxhall watching the Witches for the first time and will have no doubt been pleased to see Ipswich win. His Blues team entertain Blackburn in their opening Championship fixture of the season on Saturday at Portman Road.
No doubt Hurst will be hoping for a similar result to the one the town’s speedway team grabbed against the Hammers, the Witches coming from six points down to grab the win – and in style – against one of the Championship front-runners.
Coty Garcia was the man of the meeting for the home side, picking up a paid eight points in a terrific display at reserve, while the top five were solid, especially Rory Schlein and guest Scott Nicholls.
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This was a big win for the Witches who are now breathing down the necks of the top four play-off places. They are coming good at the right time and if they can keep this settled side together, with teen star Drew Kemp set to join them in three weeks, this season could still have quite a punch left for Witches fans.
But they made it hard work for themselves early on tonight, as the Hammers took that early lead.
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Lakeside were reliant on the fast-starting Richard Lawson who won his first four races, but slowly the Witches eeked into the visitors lead before taking the lead themselves and securing a crucial heat 13 5-1 maximum through Schlein and Nicholls over Lawson.
With plenty of home meetings to come the Witches are still very much in the play-off hunt right now. if they can pick up a point or two at Lakeside tonight and Peterborough on Sunday, it will have been a fruitful few days for Ritchie Hawkins’ side.
“I think this team is a bit more solid. Mark Riss has scored double figures again and his contribution has made the biggest difference in the three meetings he has done,” said Witches team boss Ritchie Hawkins.
“That is where the improvement has come, the lads before were doing well with their inexperience but Mark has come in and done so well on a five-point average and he is averaging 10 from the three meetings he has done. It is obvious where the improvement in the team has come.”
Hawkins says there is a better feeling at the club after recent results and praised guest Scott Nicholls who scored 13+1.
“Three wins in a row and everyone’s confidence is improving and there is a better atmosphere around the club. There was a good crowd tonight and it was good racing, it was a good meeting. We need to keep this going now. Scott was superb for us tonight.”
Both Hammers were away well at the start of heat one and while Schlein passed Zach Wajtknecht, he couldn’t catch Richard Lawson.
Lakeside were flying from the tapes and the reserves race was a comfortable 5-1 maximum to the visitors. It was a poor start from the home side but they began to turn it around in heat three.
Mark Riss passed the fast-starting Adam Ellis on lap one before Nico Covatti produced a stunning pass, stalking and passing Ellis going into the final lap.
Still the Hammers led by two. But the Witches had turned it round by heat four, despite Kyle Newman making a great start. Garcia got past him down the back straight and Nicholls joined him at the front. Now it was the Witches who led by two.
Lawson won the next but Cameron Heeps fell on the final bend while chasing Ellis.
Ellis hit the deck on turn two in the next under challenge from Nicholls. The Hammers man was excluded and he wasn’t happy about it. But he was excluded and Nicholls won the re-run.
The Witches looked set for a third 5-1 in heat eight, but Wajtknecht produced a fine pass on Garcia as Lawson made it three out of three for him.
Newman did all he could to keep Schlein and Heeps behind him in heat 10, before Schlein passed him on the run-in to the line, while Lawson won again before coming out for a tactical ride in heat 12. He and Ellis were too sharp for Covatti as Ipswich led by just two.
The Witches hit back, Nicholls and Schlein defeating Lawson for the first time as the Foxhall fans roared their approval. Morley fell in heat 14 with the Witches on a 5-1, but Riss and Garcia made no mistake in the re-run as the points were secured. And Ipswich-boy Nicholls sealed the deal for the Witches in the last race.
1 Lawson, Schlein, Wajtknecht, Heeps 56.7 2-4
2 Morley, Bowtell, Garcia, Wallinger 58.5 3-9
3 Riss, Covatti, Ellis, Newman 57.0 8-10
4 Garcia, Nicholls, Newman, Bowtell 57.8 13-11
5 Lawson, Covatti, Riss, Wajtknecht 56.4 16-14
6 Schlein, Ellis, Morley, Heeps (f) 57.0 19-17
7 Nicholls, Newman, Wallinger, Ellis (f/x) 23-19
8 Heeps, Wajtknecht, Garcia, Bowtell 58.2 27-21
9 Lawson, Covatti, Riss, Morley 57.3 30-24
10 Schlein, Newman, Heeps, Ellis 57.9 34-26
11 Lawson, Nicholls, Wajtknecht, Wallinger 56.9 36-30
12 Ellis, Lawson*, Covatti, Garcia 57.1 37-35
13 Nicholls, Schlein, Lawson, Wajtknecht 57.2 42-36
14 Riss, Garcia, Morley, Newman (ex) 58.5 47-37
15 Nichols, Lawson, Schlein, Ellis 58.0 51-39
Ipswich 3 pts. Lakeside 0 pts.
Ipswich: R Schlein 11+1, C Heeps 4, N Covatti 7+1, M Riss 8+2, S Nicholls 13+1, D Wallinger 1, C Garcia 7+1
Lakeside: R Lawson 17+1, Z Wajtknecht 4, A Ellis 6, K Newman 5, R/R, B Morley 5+1, A Bowtell 2+1