Witches need five points for play-offs

IPSWICH Evening Star Witches take on Coventry Bees at Foxhall Stadium tonight (start 7.30pm) needing five points from their remaining six Elite League speedway fixtures to guarantee a top-four play-off place.

Elvin King

IPSWICH Evening Star Witches take on Coventry Bees at Foxhall Stadium tonight (start 7.30pm) needing five points from their remaining six Elite League speedway fixtures to guarantee a top-four play-off place.

And team manager Pete Simmons says it will then be a job well done.

“When I took over from Mike Smillie at the start of the season my aim was to end my first season in the top four,” said Simmons.

“Our away form has improved dramatically this year, and the riders are doing their stuff.

“But there will be no let up and we must keep it going.

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“We have 15 points on offer, and this is what we are aiming for - and hopefully overtake Swindon for third place.”

Poole and Lakeside are first and second in the table, and the top two finishers are at home in one-legged play-off, semi-finals. The final is fought out over two legs.

In theory, Ipswich can still catch Lakeside but it would mean the injury-hit Hammers slipping up badly in their last five fixtures.

Ipswich ride at home to Lakeside next week and also have Poole to entertain at Foxhall, while they still have league trips to make to Poole, Wolverhampton and Peterborough.

New Ipswich recruit Rory Schlein will be riding against his former club tonight, while ex-Witch Hans Andersen will be spearheading the Coventry team having moved last month from Peterborough.

Anderson, who has the fourth best average in the Elite League, has ridden for the Panthers at Foxhall three times already this season.

Ipswich winter target Simon Stead has a broken collarbone so the Bees will use rider replacement at number two with Grand Prix star Chris Harris at number three.

Reserves Stanislaw Burza and Andreas Messing have been released and replaced by Czech international Filip Sitera and former German Under-21 champion Robbie Kessler.

The latter began the season as the Witches number eight, but dropped out of British speedway after a disappointing spell at Mildenhall.

While Ipswich replaced Kessler with young Dane Jan Graversen, the Bees decided to make the most of his experience.

Tonight's line-ups

Ipswich: P Swiderski, T Kroner, J Hampel, R Miskowiak, R Schlein, S Johnston, C Schramm.

Coventry: H Andersen, Rider replacement, C Harris, B Janniro, O Allen, F Sitera, R Kessler.

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