LEICESTER were beaten 51-39 at Ipswich on Thursday – and now face two massive home meetings over the Bank Holiday as they look to secure their Sports Insure Premiership play-off place.

The Watling JCB Lions battled hard at Foxhall but had no answer to the Witches’ top spearhead of Jason Doyle and Emil Sayfutdinov – and although they led by two points after Heat 8, the home side then took control with back-to-back 5-1s.

Doyle scored a paid maximum from five rides whilst Sayfutdinov was also unbeaten with the exception of a disqualification in Heat 1 when he brought down Richie Worrall as he attempted to make his way through the traffic.

Max Fricke led the charge for the Lions and Worrall put in a strong display, whilst both Justin Sedgmen and Drew Kemp contributed a race win apiece.

The re-run of Heat 1 saw Fricke quickly pass a fast-starting Erik Riss as the Lions opened with a 4-2, but the Witches responded with two 4-2s of their own and then recorded a damaging 5-1 in Heat 4 when guest reserve Jason Edwards held second place at the expense of Craig Cook after Kemp had crashed on the second lap.

Worrall and Fricke both steamed inside Danny King in Heat 5 for a Leicester 5-1 to bring them back into contention, and a further Lions maximum followed in Heat 8 as Kemp dominated from the start and Worrall fought his way inside Riss at the start of the last lap to put the visitors 25-23 up.

But Ipswich regained the lead with a 5-1 in an awarded Heat 9 when Cook lifted and fell on turn four with his bike slamming through the fence, and then Riss held Richard Lawson at bay for another 5-1 behind Sayfutdinov in Heat 10.

Fricke took a tactical substitute ride in Heat 12 and duly won the race, but Lawson was kept in third place by King as the Lions were limited to a 4-2.

And that was never likely to be enough as Sayfutdinov stormed from the gate in Heat 13 whilst Doyle made his way inside Fricke for a 5-1 to effectively wrap up the contest.

Sedgmen held a neat line to win Heat 14 but the match finished with another Doyle/Sayfutdinov maximum in Heat 15 after Worrall had been disqualified for breaking the tapes.

Manager Stewart Dickson said: “We were in the meeting for a long period of time, but you’ve got the inevitable Heats 13 and 15 where they’re very, very strong.

“We looked to see if we could capitalise in Heats 12 and 14 and I had to use Max as a tactical and unfortunately Richard never got the 5-1 with him.

“But Ipswich rode well and we dug in and gave them a meeting. It was certainly a better performance than what we’ve had in the last couple.

“This was a free hit because it wasn’t as if we were coming here to hold on to something, and one or two riders had decent performances and one or two need to up their game – and they’ll know who they are, I don’t need to mention them.

“We get geared up now for Saturday and Monday which are massive for Leicester, and we know what we’ve got to do.”

The effect of Thursday’s results is that the Lions are now outside the top four on 29 points with five matches remaining, whilst Ipswich are on 31 with just one to go.

On the assumption that the Witches win their final match at King’s Lynn, it means the Lions need a maximum of six more points to qualify for the play-offs – and they can collect at least five of them with home wins over Sheffield on Saturday (6.30pm) and King’s Lynn on Monday (8pm).

Anything less, however, would put further pressure on their remaining away matches, which include a trip to Peterborough where they are very well placed for the aggregate point.

IPSWICH 51: Jason Doyle 14+1, Emil Sayfutdinov 11+1, Danny King 8, Keynan Rew 6+1, Erik Riss 5+1, Danyon Hume 4+1, Jason Edwards 3+1.
LEICESTER 39: Max Fricke 13, Richie Worrall 6+3, Richard Lawson 6, Justin Sedgmen 4+1, Jake Allen 4+1, Craig Cook 3, Drew Kemp 3.
Ipswich win the aggregate point.

Photo credit: JEFF HIGGOTT

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