By Henry Chard

When and where

Arena-Essex Raceway: Friday 4th May, 8.00pm

The teams

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. TBC 4.17 7. Alfie Bowtell 2.06. Team Manager: Will Potinger

Ipswich: 1. Eddie Kennett (g) 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

Referee: P. Carrington

Knockout Cup 1st Leg score

Ipswich 35-54 Lakeside

The story

The ‘Tru Plant’ Witches return to the Arena Essex Raceway for the second leg fixture of their Knockout Cup tie against Lakeside on Friday. The two sides met last night in Suffolk with the Witches enduring a night to forget as the Hammers recorded a big win against the five-man home side. King was withdrawn from the meeting after a heat one crash after partner Michael Härtel collided with his skipper. King was taken to hospital and is set for a spell on the sidelines with a suspected broken arm. Eddie Kennett comes in to guest at number one as the management hope that Härtel is fit to take his place in the side after aggravating a shoulder injury in last night’s crash. Rider replacement remains in operation at number two for the injured Nico Covatti.

The opposition

The Hammers are familiar faces to Witches fans this season, having already met three times this season. The Essex side have come out on top on all three occasions and are firm favourites to progress in the Knockout Cup after their big win at Foxhall last night. The heat leader trio of Richard Lawson, Adam Ellis and Nick Morris have started the year in fine form and with Kyle Newman in the engine room, they have impressed many onlookers at this early stage. Zach Wajtknecht will be missing from their side through injury and it is not yet known who will take his place in their side.

One to watch 

Richard Lawson was our man to watch at Foxhall on Thursday and he is the danger man again on Friday. The Hammers skipper recorded an impressive five-ride paid maximum last night and looked in untouchable form and is sure to be the man to beat at the Arena Essex Raceway.

From the boss…

‘Tru Plant’ Witches Promoter Chris Louis previews Friday’s meeting. 

“Our focus is on the league so therefore we have to go back there in the league and get some points out of it. It is a very handy practice for us. That is not to say we have given up as we haven’t but you have to be realistic and are we going to pull back 20 points there? Probably not. I don’t see anyone going there this season and winning by more than one or two points.

“The average changes that we were not expecting made us weaker not being able to cover for Nico and losing Danny now makes life even more difficult but until we know the prognosis and how long he will be out for, the only thing we can do is pick the best horses for courses that we can.”

The form

After the disappointment of falling at the first hurdle in the Championship Shield the Witches thumped Newcastle in the Championship before last night’s disappointment in the first leg of the Knockout Cup. The home side have started 2018 in positive fashion by topping the Championship Shield group before losing at Berwick in the league. Their big win at Ipswich last night is sure to fill them with confidence going into Friday’s second leg.

What happened last time?

The Witches’ previous visit to the Arena-Essex Raceway ended in a 54-35 defeat in April in the Championship Shield as Danny King top scored with 12. The Witches started brightly on the night and kept the home side within striking distance up until heat 10. However, hopes of any away points faded from then on as the hosts got stronger and stronger and won in comfortable fashion.

Away guide

The Hammers are sponsored by Vortex and race in black, sky blue and maroon race jackets. They race at the Arena-Essex Raceway on Friday evenings on the tight 256 metre track where Andreas Jonsson holds the track record of 56.8 seconds set in May 2008. An adult ticket costs £17, Concessions £14, Students £8, Kids (8-15) £1 and children under seven are free. A programme costs £3. For more details and how to find them visit their website here: