Battling Witches take it to a last heat decider against the Aces
- Credit: Taylor Lanning
Ipswich Witches took Belle Vue Aces to a last-heat decider in Manchester but just failed to bring home the win, losing by 42 points to 48..
Led by No.1 Jason Doyle, the Witches took an early six-point lead and were never headed until heat 12 when the Aces, led by a flying Matej Zagar, took a two-point lead themselves.
Ipswich needed a heat advantage in the final race to grab a draw or win, but Zagar and Brady Kurtz led Doyle, who dropped his first points of the night.
It was a battling performance from the Witches who thoroughly deserved their losing bonus point and although they will be disappointed to lose a six-point early lead, they showed again they have the attributes to reach this season's Premiership play-offs.
The big, fast National Stadium track was in good-looking shape with both teams missing key riders and using rider replacement and guests.
The Witches made a perfect start as Ben Barker gated, pushing Jye Etheridge wide, as Doyle joined him at the front for a Witches maximum 5-1 score.
Barker was out again in heat two and he shot from the start to win, with Danyon Hume slipping up the inside of Tom Brennan to pinch third on the line as the Witches went six ahead.
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But the Aces hit straight back as Zagar and Charles Wright raced to a maximum in heat three.
Troy Batchelor passed Brennan as heat four was shared and heat five was a cracker as Doyle passed Zagar, while Hume and Wright had a super battle, with Wright coming through for another drawn race.
Barker packed up when in third place as the scores levelled and Kurtz won the next.
Batchelor roared round Brennan in heat eight as Hume again did well for third and the Witches were back in front at 23-25. But it was level once again as Zagar won once more and King kept it that way as he won his first race in heat 10.
Doyle made it three out of three for him after a superb scrap with Kurtz, before the Aces took the lead for the first time on the night in heat 12. Doyle won again as Kurtz passed Batchelor to keep the Aces two up.
Barker kept his bike going to win heat 14 in style, as Hume battled hard with Wright. But the home side went into the final heat two ahead, where Zagar and Kurtz prevailed.
Belle Vue: 1. R/R; 2. Jye Etheridge (0,1,ex/t, 2) =3; 3. Matej Zagar (3,2,3,3,3,3) 17; 4. Charles Wright (2*,1*,1,1*,1*) =6+4; 5. Brady Kurtz (1,3,3,2,2,2*) =13+1; 6. Zach Cook (2,0,0) =2; 7. Tom Brennan (0,0,2,1*,1*,1,2) = 7+2.
Ipswich: 1. Jason Doyle (3,3,3,3,1) 13; 2. R/R; 3. Danny King (1,2,3,2) 8; 4. Justin Sedgmen (0,1*,0) = 1+1; 5. Troy Batchelor (1*,2,3,2,0,0) =8+1; 6. Ben Barker (2*,3,2,e/f,e/f,0,3) =10+1; 7. Danyon Hume (1,0,1,0,0) =2.
1. Doyle, Barker, Kurtz, Etheridge 1-5
2. Barker, Cook, Hume, Brennan 3-9
3. Zagar, Wright, King, Sedgmen 8-10
4. Kurtz, Barker, Batchelor, Brennan 11-13
5. Doyle, Zagar, Wright, Hume 14-16
6. Zagar, Batchelor, Etheridge, Barker (e/f) 18-18
7. Kurtz, King, Sedgmen, Cook 21-21
8. Batchelor, Brennan, Hume, Cook 23-25
9. Zagar, Batchelor, Wright, Hume 27-27
10 King, Etheridge, Brennan, Barker (e/f) 30-30
11. Doyle, Kurtz, Brennan, Sedgmen 33-33
12. Zagar, King, Brennan, Barker 37-35
13. Doyle, Kurtz, Wright, Batchelor 40-38
14. Barker, Brennan, Wright, Hume 43-41
15. Zagar, Kurtz, Doyle, Batchelor 48-42
Aces 3pts. Witches 1pt.
Top Witch: Jason Doyle: Four straight wins, he led from the front as he has done all season and secured Ipswich a losing bonus point.
Team Meetings Pts.
Belle Vue 7 14
Ipswich 6 13
Wolverhampton 5 11
Sheffield 4 9
King's Lynn 5 8
Peterborough 5 0