By Henry Chard

When and where

Foxhall Stadium: Thursday 3rd May, 7.30pm

Home meeting sponsor

Scott Properties

The teams

Ipswich: 1. Danny King 9.10 © 2. R/R for Nico Covatti 6.30 3. Cameron Heeps 6.68 4.Michael Härtel 5.20 5. Rory Schlein 8.80 6. Connor Mountain 3.66 7. Danyon Hume 4.00. Team Manager: Ritchie Hawkins

Lakeside: 1. Nick Morris 8.84 2. Ben Morley 4.28 3. Adam Ellis 7.23 4. Kyle Newman 6.21 5. Richard Lawson 8.63 © 6. Max Clegg (g) 4.17 7. Alfie Bowtell 2.06. Team Manager: Will Potinger

Referee: M. Bates

The story

The ‘Tru Plant’ Witches host the Lakeside Hammers on Thursday at Foxhall in the first leg of the Knockout Cup quarter-final.

After the disappointment of exiting the Championship Shield, the Witches kicked off their league campaign with a thumping win over Newcastle last week and they will need to be on their game again this week as they face the Hammers home and away over two days to reach the semi-finals of the Knockout Cup.

Ritchie Hawkins’ side were cruelly denied the trophy last year after injuries struck once again in an agonising defeat to Peterborough. The home side are again without Nico Covatti who is recovering from his broken ribs and rider replacement will be in operation. The Witches will be keen for revenge this week after the Hammers beat the Suffolk side home and away in the Championship Shield last month.

The opposition

Lakeside have started the season in good form having qualified for the next round of the Championship Shield by topping the group. It’s a strong top three for the Essex side with Nick Morris, Richard Lawson and Adam Ellis having started the season in impressive form. Max Clegg guests in place of Zach Wajtknecht, who was injured in the British U21 Final at Berwick. Kyle Newman returns to Foxhall again and was key in their side’s victory at Foxhall last month recording two race wins.

One to watch 

Richard Lawson is back with the Hammers having spent time with them in the Premiership before their drop down to the National League in 2017. Lawson has been a regular with Glasgow in the Championship in recent years and has been a consistent performer at the top end of the averages in the league. The 32-year-old scored 11 at Foxhall in his side’s Championship Shield win.

From the boss…

‘Tru Plant’ Witches Team Manager Ritchie Hawkins previews Thursday’s meeting. 

“It was a lot better performance last week and you can’t get carried away but it was a good performance and everyone showed improvement and we need to carry that on against Lakeside,” said Hawkins.

“We need to be confident at our own track and we want teams to know that we are a very good team. We need a good string of results and then teams will feel like that. Lakeside will come full of confidence having had two good results against us already this year but we need to be a lot better this time.

“I never put a points target on the first leg but obviously the bigger lead we can take the better. I think we will be a lot better at Lakeside than last time but we need to be a lot better at Foxhall too.”

The form

The Witches endured a tough start to the new season, losing three Championship Shield fixtures including two on home shale. However, the home side will be hoping that a big home win last time out means the tide has turned. Lakeside lost last time out at Berwick in the Championship but prior to that had clocked up four wins on the trot including that win at Foxhall.

What happened last time? 

The two sides met just a matter of weeks ago at Foxhall as the Hammers came away with a 45-44 win in the Championship Shield. The home side went into the meeting knowing they needed a big win to keep their slim hopes of progressing alive but they were never ahead on the night as they battled all evening to keep with the Hammers. The Witches needed a 5-1 in the final heat to take the win but fell short, meaning the Essex side secured their qualification. Captain Danny King top scored with 15+1.