Ipswich Witches column: Home side face current champions Belle Vue Aces at Foxhall Heath
Ipswich Witches entertain current champions, Belle Vue Aces, at Foxhall Heath tomorrow night, knowing they must keep fighting for a top four spot despite a disappointing loss at Sheffield on Monday evening.
The Witches sit just outside the play-off places while champions and current league leaders, the Aces, sit top of the table.
They are led by Grand Prix star and British ace, Dan Bewley, with Aussie star Brady Kurtz lending solid support.
The Aces won at Foxhall earlier in the season and the two teams mEet again in Manchester on Monday night in the return – a meeting being screened live on Eurosport.
For the Witches there is no room for defeat if their fragile play-off hopes are to remain intact.
IPSWICH: 1. Emil Sayfutdinov 9.80 2. Keynan Rew 4.00 3. Danny King 6.73 4. Erik Riss 5.93 5. Jason Doyle 9.66 6. Danyon Hume 3.92 7. Dan Thompson (RS). Team Manager: Ritchie Hawkins
BELLE VUE: 1. Dan Bewley 8.28 2. Norick Blödorn 5.69 3. Jaimon Lidsey 7.25 4. Charles Wright 6.67 5. Brady Kurtz 8.28 6. Tom Brennan 5.66 7. Connor Bailey (RS). Team Manager: Mark Lemon
The Witches' hopes of a play-off top four place were dealt that big blow at Sheffield on Monday night in front of the Eurosport cameras.
Having beaten Wolverhampton at Foxhall last Thursday, the Witches headed to south Yorkshire confident of at least picking up the aggregate bonus point, as they held a 12-point lead after victory over the Tigers at Foxhall.
“I am extremely disappointed,” said Witches team manager, Ritchie Hawkins.
“To even lose the bonus point is dreadful and obviously it really hurts our chances of making the top four.
“It was clear Erik Riss really struggled tonight and that is as disappointing for him as it is for everyone.
“Jason Doyle had a rare off night but the margins between the top boys around Sheffield are very minimal, and he wasn’t far off but he wasn’t quite his sublime self that he has been pretty much week in week out for the last 18 months.
“Emil Sayfutdinov was superb again as he was last time he was here, and he has been like that pretty much everywhere we have been. He was brilliant and a joy to watch around there.”
Danny King has told Ipswich Witches fans he and his side will fight for every point until the season’s end.
The Suffolk side entertain reigning Sports Insure Premiership champions, Belle Vue, at Foxhall Stadium on Thursday night, 7.30pm start, in what should be another tasty clash on the Heath.
“Everyone is disappointed after the Sheffield defeat,” the Witches skipper said.
“We’re aware of the situation, we know now it’s going to be tough to make the play-offs. But what do we do, give up? No way, that’s not what this Club is about, or any of us.
“It’s mathematically still possible to reach the play-offs and as long as it is, we keep fighting.
“Unfortunately, we know we’ve made it hard for ourselves, but we can only attack one meeting at a time now. That’s it. But we aren’t giving up, that is 100% for sure.”
King knows 2023 is turning into a frustrating one for Ipswich fans, made even more so by the fact owner Chris Louis managed to attract the strongest top-two in the Premiership to Foxhall this summer, in Emil Sayfutdinov and Jason Doyle.
“The fans are rightly frustrated, I understand that. They’ve waited way too long for some silverware,” King said.
“And it’s even more frustrating because our fans are some of the very best in the country, we’re lucky to have them, we know that.”
Admission for fans on race night at Foxhall: Adults (17+) £22, concessions (65+) £20, children (16 and under) free, car parking is also free.
THURS., JULY 13 BELLE VUE (HOME) 7.30pm Prem
Mon, July 17 Belle Vue (away) 7.30pm Prem. Live on Eurosport
THURS., JULY 20 PETERBOROUGH (HOME) 7.30pm Prem
(Top 4 into play-offs)
Team P Pts
Belle Vue 17 30
Leicester 12 22
Wolves 14 22
Sheffield 13 20
Ipswich 14 15
King’s Lynn 13 7
Peterborough 13 2