Ipswich Witches have no intention of conceding the race to clinch the sixth and final Premier League speedway play-off spot as they demonstrated at Foxhall Heath last night by defeating their only challengers, Edinburgh Monarchs, 48-41, and they head north for tonight’s quick-fire return clash at Armadale hoping to follow in the tyre tracks of Scunthorpe Scorpions who handed Monarchs their first league reverse at home seven days ago.
But a defiant Monarchs co-boss John Campbell today predicted: “We’ll hammer Ipswich tonight. They don’t have enough riders who will cause us problems.”
Monarchs led their Suffolk rivals 17-12 thanks to a 5-1 from guest star Thomas Jorgensen and Derek Sneddon in heat five.
Unfortunately, the capital outfit were then swallowed up as Ipswich turned up the heat by grabbing a trio of 5-1 advantages in the space of five races to lead 33-26 after heat ten.
Monarchs could have salvaged a match point had they extracted a maximum score in the final heat, but they had to settle for a 4-2 instead, Jorgensen heading home Witches’ top scorer, Dakota North, with team-mate Andrew Tully unable to finish better than third.
In truth, Monarchs probably did not deserve to take anything from the meeting because their signature trio, Matthew Wethers, Theo Pijper, and Tully, did not excel themselves and that was the main source of their scoring shortfall.
Campbell said: “ It would have been great to have got a point or even a win, but Ipswich is a strange place. It’s a gater’s paradise and the Ipswich riders got out of the gate more frequently than we did as the match wore on.
“Theo, Matthew, and Andrew did not perform to their best, which meant we did not have enough to win.”
However, Campbell was fulsome in his praise of Jorgensen who, despite an engine failure in the opening heat, won his next four outings in commanding style for a 12-point haul.
“Thomas was fantastic, and we could not have picked a better guest,” said Campbell. “He was very dominant, and Mason Campton, who stood in for Jozsef Tabaka at reserve, was also highly creditable.
“Mason had not done that well on his previous visit to Ipswich, so to get involved this time was very good.
“I think we’ll hammer them tonight because they don’t have enough riders to cause us problems.
“There would have to be a significant improvement in the Ipswich team to cause us any worry this evening, and providing we win our remaining home fixtures we will qualify for the play-offs, and I remain convinced we’ll do that.”
Tully, who revealed he has retrieved his stolen speedway equipment, won his first race but could not build on that, and Campbell observed: “Andrew is too self-critical. He creates problems in his head because he is never satisfied. If he just accepted defeats in races and moved on to the next one, he’d be much better.”
The one controversy of the match occured in heat 11 when Derek Sneddon was knocked off on the third turn by Witches’ tail-ender Matt Tresarrieu, but the referee excluded the Monarchs rider instead.
Even Witches star North believed that his colleague was at fault. Interviewed before the referee made his decision, North said: “Matt lifted going into the third corner and took Derek down. He’ll be very lucky if he’s not excluded for that.” And he was!
Monarchs director Mike Hunter commented: “The pressure was on Ipswich last night and it’s on us now. Ipswich may not have any really big riders, but they are all useful.”
Meanwhile, Monarchs had booked in Micky Dyer as a guest for Tabaka tonight, but Dyer crashed at Redcar Bears last night and may not be fit to ride.
The dates for Monarchs’ KO Cup semi-final meetings with Ipswich have been announced. The first leg will be at Armadale on October 12, with the decider at Ipswich on October 18.
Ipswich: North 11, Lanham 9, Tungate 7, Tresarrieu 7, Poole 5, Risager 5, Nielsen 4.
Monarchs: Jorgensen 12, Sneddon 6, Pijper 6, Tully 6, Campton 6, Wethers 5, Helfer 0.