Ipswich Witches column: Victory required over Leicester Lions to keep slim Premiership play-off hopes alive
IPSWICH Witches head into tomorrow night’s home Premiership clash with Leicester Lions (7.30pm) knowing anything other than a victory will mean the end of their play-off dreams.
The Suffolk side are still hanging on by a thread in the top four of the table having ridden more meetings than teams around them, with Leicester being the team the Witches will hope to knock out of the play-off picture.
While the Witches must win tomorrow night, they must also hope the Lions slip up over the next few weeks. The ball is not in the Suffolk side’s court.
Should Ritchie Hawkins’ side beat Leicester they would go two points clear of the Midlanders. But Leicester have four meetings in hand on the Suffolk side and, although the Lions have hit a patchy run of form of late, they would still be hot favourites to grab a play-off spot.
Sheffield, who currently sit two points behind the Witches in fifth, also have four meetings in hand on Ipswich but have three of them at home – and their home form is strong.
So, it leaves the Witches, the current form team in the league, with fingers crossed, ruing their poor first half of the season that looks like ultimately costing them a top four play-off place.
However, on the horizon is a possible Knockout Cup final for Ipswich fans to look forward to, as they head to Peterborough on Bank Holiday Monday in the second leg of the two team’s semi-final.
The Witches hold a 24-point lead from the first leg and, although the Panthers are finding a bit of form right now, it would be a major surprise should the Alwalton side overturn such a deficit.
IPSWICH: 1. Emil Sayfutdinov 9.91 2. Erik Riss 4.86 3. Danny King 7.03 4. Keynan Rew 4.00 5. Jason Doyle 9.37 6. Danyon Hume 3.74 7. Jason Edwards (G) (RS). Team Manager: Ritchie Hawkins
LEICESTER: 1. Max Fricke 8.91 2. Richie Worrall 5.77 3. Richard Lawson 7.38 4. Justin Sedgmen 6.12 5. Craig Cook 5.96 6. Jake Allen 4.09 7. Drew Kemp (RS). Team Manager: Stewart Dickson
THE Witches picked up the bonus point at Wolverhampton on Monday night but fell narrowly short of picking up all three going down 46-44 to the home side in a Premiership clash.
In a nip-and-tuck encounter the Witches had their chances to pick up all the points that would have given them a better chance of remaining in the top four of the Premiership come season’s end. But in the end, it took an Emil Sayfutdinov/Jason Doyle 5-1 maximum in the final race to secure just the bonus point.
Ipswich team boss Ritchie Hawkins said: “I thought it was a great performance, and I can’t fault the team. Ordinarily you would be happy with that result at Wolves, picking up the bonus point. But obviously we’ve left ourselves with such a big gap to make up, it looks like not being enough.
“There was rain before the start and the track was tricky. But the boys put everything into it and at times got caught out. But certainly, I can’t fault them for that.
“I would rather they were putting themselves on the edge to try and get the win rather than taking the easy option and losing anyway.”
IPSWICH fans have been given a huge boost with the news that Aussie star Jason Doyle would love nothing more than to return to Foxhall in 2024 – and beyond.
Doyle, who rode superbly in the Grand Prix Challenge in Sweden at the weekend to win the event, and ultimately guarantee, himself a Grand Prix spot for next year, was speaking last week on his thoughts of remaining at Ipswich next season.
“I hope Chris (Louis) will have me back at Ipswich next year,” Doyle said.
“I don’t want to go anywhere else. I want to be part of the furniture and stay there for many years, not just do a couple of seasons. Ipswich feels right. I don’t know how many years I have left racing, but I want to stay at one club and finish my time in England.
“I’m enjoying my time at Ipswich and hopefully I can continue 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.
Thursday., Aug 24, LEICESTER (HOME) 7.30pm PREM
Mon., Aug 28, Peterborough (Away) 7.30pm KO Cup semi-final, second leg
(Top 4 into play-offs)
Team P Pts
Belle Vue 22 40
Wolves 19 33
Leicester 18 29
Ipswich 22 28
Sheffield 18 26
Peterborough 20 8
King’s Lynn 19 7