Injury-hit Witches are shown no mercy as Panthers take the spoils at Foxhall
- Credit: Picture: Steve Waller
Ipswich Witches 41 Peterborough Panthers 49
Injury-hit Ipswich Witches’ play-off hopes are hanging by a thread after a damaging home defeat to Peterborough Panthers at Foxhall tonight.
The current Championship league leaders were in no mood to feel sorry for a Suffolk side missing top two riders Rory Schlein and Danny King through injury.
And they put the Witches to the sword early on. Their lightning gating was too much for a slow-starting home team who were ten points down, and appeared half asleep, after just four races.
Admittedly the Witches kept plugging away after the break and, after a few choice words from team boss Ritchie Hawkins, at least took the meeting to a last-heat decider.
But they never seriously looked like winning as the visitors took all the points.
Yes, the Suffolk side were woefully understrength, but they never helped themselves with some poor gating and now one would think they would need to win at both Scunthorpe and Glasgow in their final two away meetings and remain unbeaten at home from now on in to grab a play-off place.
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The Panthers meanwhile looked determined from the off and deserved their win.
In former Witch Scott Nicholls they had the best rider on view, while reserve Tom Bacon hugely impressed.
It was an untidy start on turn one of lap one as Nicholls led. Mark Riss passed Simon Lambert in a drawn opening heat.
Sixteen-year-old Drew Kemp was making his home debut in the next and although he came last, it wasn’t after a fine effort to pass Emil Grondal on turn three.
Nicholls was proving a master on the Foxhall track and he moved Riss out of the way in heat three, to allow partner Bradley Wilson-Dean through. And they kept it going, Kemp picking up his first-ever Witches point, but it was on the receiving end of a 5-1 to the visitors.
Ipswich at last got a heat win in heat six.
Cameron Heeps led the way, but when Paul Starke packed up on the final bend, it gifted Witches guest Kyle Newman a point. It looked good for the visitors in heat seven, but Covatti passed Starke. Coty Garcia made a fine start in heat eight to see him to victory as Newman passed Lambert and Grondal fell when under pressure from Heeps in another drawn race, heat nine.
Panthers went 10 up in the next, Covatti and Newman the next Witches pairing outgated by the buoyant visitors. Garcia lowered Nicholls colours in an exciting heat 11 and when Nicholls touched the tapes in heat 13, going off 15m, Garcia and Covatti brought the house down as Witches reduced the deficit to four. There was a big crash in heat 14 as Wilson-Dean tried to split the Witches pairing of Riss and Garcia. Three riders, including Bacon at the back hit the deck but thankfully all were up ok.
Bacon won the re-run with a fine back straight pass on both Witches and Nicholls and Starke sealed the deal in the final race for the visitors.
Ipswich now travel to Scunthorpe on Friday night. Scott Nicholls and Ty Proctor guest for them in place of King and Schlein.
1 Nicholls, Newan, Riss, Lambert 57.7 3-3
2 Bacon, Garcia, Grondal, Kemp 57.2 5-7
3 Nicholls, Wilson-Dean, Riss, Heeps 57.1 6-12
4 Bacon, Starke, Kemp, Covatti 57.2 7-17
5 Nicholls, Heeps, Riss, Lambert 57.4 10-20
6 Heeps, Grondal, Newman, Starke (e/f) 58.1 14-22
7 Wilson-Dean, Covatti, Heeps*, Starke 58.2 17-25
8 Garcia, Bacon, Newman, Lambert 58.0 21-27
9 Starke, Riss Heeps, Grondal (f) 57.4 24-30
10 Bacon, Wilson-Dean, Newman, Covatti 57.5 25-35
11 Garcia, Nicholls, Covatti, Bacon 58.0 29-37
12 Heeps, Wilson-Dean, Grondal, Kemp 57.5 32-40
13 Covatti, Garcia, Starke, Nicholls (15m) 58.6 37-41
14 Bacon, Riss, Garcia, Wilson-Dean (ex) 57.5 40-44
15 Starke, Nicholls, Heeps, Covatti 58.3 41-49
Ipswich 0 pts. Peterborough 4 pts.
Ipswich: R/R, K Newman 5, C Heeps 11+2, M Riss 7+2, N Covatti 6, C Garcia 11+2, D Kemp 2
Peterborough: S Nicholls 13+1, S Lambert 0, B Wilson-Dean 9+2, R/R, P Starke 9+1, E Grondal 4+1, T Bacon 14
Peterborough 17 38
Lakeside 14 32
Berwick 17 30
Glasgow 14 27
Workington 13 27
Edinburgh 14 25
Ipswich 15 23
Newcastle 13 21
Scunthorpe 16 21
Redcar 17 17
Sheffield 18 15
TOP FOUR QUALIFY FOR PLAY-OFFS