PETERBOROUGH completed a League Cup double over Ipswich with an impressive 50-40 win at Foxhall on Thursday.
The Panthers took maximum points from the meeting to establish a strong position in the group, with Hans Andersen blasting back to top form with 11+1, a score matched by Chris Harris.
Ipswich No.1 Jason Doyle was responsible for four of his side’s six race wins as he tallied 14, but he came to grief when taking a tactical substitute ride in Heat 12. Panthers boss Rob Lyon said: “It feels like same again from last season – same mindset, same process, same set of riders pretty much, and it’s like it’s carried on from last October, and here we are again.
“Hans was on fire tonight, and he was unlucky in Heat 15 to be fair. The match was already won and he was just having a good old race with Jason Doyle, and he came off second best unfortunately – but he was good tonight, very good. It was a great all-round team performance once again.”
Witches boss Ritchie Hawkins said: “It was a disappointing performance, and I think it was quite clear that it was a team that’s high on confidence, who have carried their mojo over from last season, the reigning champions, against a team that’s just been put together and isn’t quite on the ball yet.
“Doyley was brilliant, I think he’s showed his class straight away and he was very quick. That was a positive, and although it was a bad result there were still some positives to take from it.”
SHEFFIELD recorded their biggest win of the season so far with a comfortable 53-37 victory over Belle Vue at Owlerton.
Simon Stead’s men produced a solid all-round team display with all seven Tigers picking up at least one paid-win to send a sizeable crowd home happy.
British Champion Adam Ellis top-scored with 11 points despite a first-ride last place, and Tobiasz Musielak added 9+1. Brady Kurtz (12+1) and Max Fricke (10) were both in double figures for the Aces.
Ellis said: “It’s been a long wait to come back here and we’ve hit the ground running which is something we maybe struggled with last year, so we’re all pleased.
“Our reserves were riding really well which is so important if we want to challenge for titles across the year.
“It’s started brilliantly, the team spirit is up there with some of the best teams I’ve been involved with and we’re only three meetings in which is a positive sign.”
Kurtz said: “Our slip-up at home really cost us last week, and we shouldn’t have made it so hard for ourselves that we had to come to Sheffield and win.
“Some of the boys were struggling quite a bit but conditions, I thought, were very good, it was a fair racetrack for both teams.
“But there’s no shame in losing to Sheffield. They are a very strong team on paper and have set an early season standard for the rest of us.”
EDINBURGH are set for home and away clashes with Berwick as they go into their first fixture of the season at Armadale tonight (Friday – UK time).
The Monarchs have two complete newcomers to the UK in their side in Lasse Fredriksen and Jacob Hook, with Paco Castagna making his debut and James Sarjeant returning to the club this season.
Skipper Sam Masters said: “It’ll be tough for the new boys, but we are giving them all the help we can.
“It will be hard this week as Berwick have some boys that can get round Armadale, but every meeting will be hard – it is a hard league, so we just need to all be firing and Josh (Pickering), Kye (Thomson) and I need to lead from the front.
“It’s my job to keep the boys together and make it as fun as we can, but it is even more fun when you are winning races, so if we are winning my job is easy. “I’ll be doing the best I can – I’ve said it before, but I really believe we are due to win some trophies, so we are going for that for sure.”
GLASGOW launch another Championship title challenge when they host Newcastle at Ashfield tonight (Friday).
The Tigers, defeated Grand Finalists in the last season, hand home debuts to Ben Basso and Danyon Hume – both of whom rode for winners Poole last year – and welcome back Ulrich Ostergaard from the injury he sustained last summer.
Newcastle operate rider-replacement at No.1 for Bradley Wilson-Dean who is out with shoulder trouble.
Tigers boss Cami Brown said: “The boys are up for it, we had a good practice on Saturday and the track work seems to have gone down very well.
“Every team is going to be dangerous. Newcastle are maybe not the strongest on paper but there have been years before where how a team looks on paper means nothing.
“We will take Newcastle as seriously as we will anyone else and we won’t be underestimating them.”
POOLE kick off their Championship title defence as they resume rivalries with Oxford at Wimborne Road today (Friday) after a 15-year absence.The Pirates have confirmed a normal 7.30pm start time for the meeting after initially planning to run earlier in the day. Cheetahs reserve Josh Macdonald has been ruled out after a crash at Cowley on Wednesday, with Nathan Stoneman standing in as a guest.
Poole promoter Danny Ford said: “I want to emphasise that we have reverted to our normal start time of 7.30pm for this meeting.
“Initially we were going to make it an earlier start but with AFC Bournemouth having a home game on Friday too we wanted to give due consideration to the fan base that follow both sports.
“The 7.30pm start will offer those fans the opportunity to come on down to Wimborne Road after the Cherries’ game.”
Oxford star Troy Batchelor, who scored a maximum on Wednesday, said: “Every meeting is the same. We can’t worry about who we’re racing and where – we’ve just got to go out there and do the job we know we can. “If we do what we’re capable of, then we can win the meeting – no doubt about it.”
REDCAR star Lewis Kerr believes the Bears are beginning to find their groove ahead of tonight’s (Friday) clash with Birmingham. The home side are back at full strength with Jason Edwards lining up at reserve after missing the trip to Newcastle last week as he was on British U21 duty – whilst the Brummies operate rider replacement for concussion victim James Shanes.
Kerr said: “We are all starting to come together now, we had a good win against Plymouth who are one of the best sides in the league so I don’t see why we can’t hit a big score at home in the near future
“I’ve had a couple of bike problems at home but we’ve solved them now. I scored 11 points at Newcastle on Sunday and overall, I’m happy with how I’ve started the campaign.”
Birmingham boss Laurence Rogers said: “They’ve got some good riders in their team and they had Erik (Riss) back off us; he’s started particularly well and hopefully he takes it easy on us.
“But after the disappointment of having our big meeting against Poole called off at Perry Barr on Wednesday, this is a quick opportunity for us to focus on moving forward and get some points on the board.”
SCUNTHORPE aim to turn the tables on Leicester in their Good Friday clash at the Eddie Wright Raceway today (5pm).
The Lions were the only visiting team to win in Lincolnshire last season – and did so on no fewer than three occasions.
Former Leicester riders Ryan Douglas and Zaine Kennedy are now with the Scorpions, although they weren’t able to prevent a heavy defeat in the reverse fixture earlier this month.
Scunthorpe boss Dave Peet said: “Leicester have done us at our own place the last few years, but we feel we’ve got a team capable of not losing to anyone at home this season. There’s no doubt that tonight will be the acid test to that.
“Lions will fancy their changes, simply because they knocked up a big win against us at their place. But after our performance there, we realised we weren’t quite as well prepared as we needed to be.
“The lads had a skid after that, both at Scunthorpe and other places. The much better performance at Oxford on Wednesday showed they’d benefitted from the extra track time.”
Leicester manager Stewart Dickson said: “Obviously we’re a different team to what we were last year with Ryan Douglas in our team, and he was one of the reasons why we turned them over three times there.
“But we’re certainly going there with the intention of getting something for sure. We have a good record there, and the riders who we’ve brought in for this year can also get round there.
“I’m pretty sure they will be well fired up because of the fact that we were the only team to beat them there last year, so we expect a tough night, but it should be a good meeting.”
BELLE Vue and Plymouth are both forced into changes ahead of their NDL clash at the National Speedway Stadium this lunchtime (1pm).
The Colts bring in 2021 team member Connor Coles to guest for Nathan Ablitt, who is on Championship duty with Poole.
Meanwhile the Centurions travel without Richard Andrews (work commitments) and Adam Extance (positive Covid test), and they bring in youngster Jody Scott to guest.
Home debutant Archie Freeman said: “It was tougher than expected at Plymouth on Tuesday but I think there were a lot of factors that played into our performance.
“I personally wasn’t too pleased with my score and I’m hoping to put in some big points in this next one because I know I’m capable of that.
“I’m really excited to finally put on my Belle Vue kevlars as a home rider in front of my home crowd. I know the rest of the boys are looking forward to this as much as I am.”
FRIDAY APRIL 15:
CHAMPIONSHIP: Edinburgh v Berwick 7.30, Glasgow v Newcastle 7.30, Poole v Oxford 7.30, Redcar v Birmingham 7.30, Scunthorpe v Leicester 5pm
NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT LEAGUE: Belle Vue v Plymouth 1pm
SATURDAY APRIL 16:
CHAMPIONSHIP: Berwick v Edinburgh 6.30, Leicester v Poole 7pm
NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT LEAGUE: Berwick v Armadale (follows Champ fixture)
SUNDAY APRIL 17:
CHAMPIONSHIP KO CUP 1st round 1st leg: Newcastle v Edinburgh 5.30
POULTEC CHALLENGE: Mildenhall 3pm
CHALLENGE: Kent v Thurrock Hammers 12pm
MONDAY APRIL 18:
LEAGUE CUP: Belle Vue v Wolverhampton 12pm, Peterborough v King’s Lynn 5pm, Wolverhampton v Belle Vue 8pm.