By Henry Chard
WHEN AND WHERE…
The ‘Tru Plant’ Witches host Leicester Lions at Foxhall Stadium on Thursday 28th March in a challenge fixture that starts at 7.30pm.
IPSWICH: 1. Chris Harris 7.59 2. David Bellego 6.11 3. Richard Lawson 6.55 4. Cameron Heeps 4.72 5. Danny King 6.36 © 6. Jake Allen 4.56 7. Drew Kemp 3.00 (g). Team Manager: Ritchie Hawkins
LEICESTER: 1. Scott Nicholls 8.14 © 2. Ellis Perks 3.95 3. Josh Bates 5.87 4. Ryan Douglas 6.12 5. Richie Worrall 7.80 6. Jack Thomas 2.24 7. Connor Mountain 3.48 8. Rory Schlein (g) 8.59. Team Manager: Stewart Dickson
Ipswich have their Premiership averages listed and Leicester have their Championship averages listed.
REFEREE: B. Horley
Admission prices for this fixture have been reduced, with adult tickets priced at £16, concessions £13, students (16-17) £5 and kids go free.
WHAT’S THE STORY?
The Witches return to Foxhall this Thursday for their first fixture on home shale of 2019 in what is their last warm-up match before the competitive action begins next week. It is the first chance for the home fans to see their new-look Premiership side in action as the team look to find the perfect set-ups at Foxhall. The two teams met at the Paul Chapman & Sons Arena on Saturday with the Suffolk side running out 50-40 winners as Chris Harris recorded a 15-point maximum.
The Witches will again be without new signing Krystian Pieszczek who has commitments in Poland and Ipswich asset Drew Kemp will once again deputise in his absence. Cameron Heeps hopes to be fit for Thursday’s meeting having taken a heavy blow to his troublesome wrist in a crash on Saturday. A specialist confirmed there were no breaks and the Australian is receiving ongoing treatment. David Bellego comes into the meeting in good form having won the Steel City Championship individual meeting at Sheffield on Sunday, with captain Danny King coming third in that meeting.
FROM THE MANAGER…
‘Tru Plant’ Witches team manager Ritchie Hawkins looks ahead to Thursday’s clash…
“I think Saturday’s meeting was competitive and we need that again on Thursday to get us sharp for King’s Lynn and give the new guys a chance to get used to Foxhall.
“We see Drew having a long-term future at Ipswich and he is very much part of Ipswich Speedway and I don’t want that to change. He is at a very good club in Sheffield this year and I think he will do very well there.
“I hope we get a good crowd and that everyone is excited to see the new team. I think press day was great and we are in the top flight and have a professional set up. I hope everyone backs us and it is the first chance to see this side.
“Leicester have brought in Rory (Schlein) and it is great to see our rider of the year for the last two seasons back. It was competitive at Leicester, so I think it will be very competitive at Ipswich, it should be an enjoyable night for everybody.”
Despite defeat to Ipswich in last Saturday’s challenge fixture there was plenty to be positive about for Leicester. The Championship side ran their top-flight opponents close all meeting and the Lions will be delighted to see Josh Bates back to his best after a long-term injury as he scored 13 points on the night.
The away side head to Foxhall looking even stronger with the addition of former Witch Rory Schlein at number eight. The Australian has spent the past two seasons with the Witches and will come in for four heats when manager Stewart Dickson decides, making the visitors a dangerous outfit.
Scott Nicholls captains the Lions making a return to Ipswich and he has started the season in good form, already winning the Ben Fund Bonanza individual meeting. Connor Mountain also makes a return to a former club, having spent the majority of the last two seasons with the Witches. For the Lions it’s all about getting race-sharp ahead of their Championship Shield meeting with Redcar on Saturday.