LEICESTER go into a big clash against direct play-off rivals as Ipswich visit the Pidcock Motorcycles Arena, Beaumont Park on Thursday (7.30pm).

As mid-season approaches, the Sports Insure Premiership table is taking shape, and recent form has seen the Watling JCB Lions firmly establish themselves amongst the contenders.

They sit fourth in the standings with the Witches fifth, and with three points available on Thursday it could be a meeting which has a major bearing on the campaign going forwards.

The Witches made plenty of headlines over the winter, especially with the star signing of Emil Sayfutdinov to join Jason Doyle in a powerhouse top two, and they were impressive in April when they eliminated the Lions from the KO Cup and Saydutdinov broke the track record.

But since then Stewart Dickson’s side have found their feet with three wins in their last four matches, the exception being a narrow 43-47 defeat in the reverse fixture at Foxhall, meaning the aggregate point is very much up for grabs on Thursday.

Whilst the Lions have been inactive since their excellent win at Peterborough last Monday, the Witches suffered a home defeat at the hands of Wolverhampton and were then beaten 55-35 at Belle Vue, leaving them outside the play-off places.

And Dickson regards the meeting as a real opportunity to extend that gap and put further pressure on the Suffolk side.

He said: “In the old days we might have called this a real four-pointer, and whilst initially we won’t be getting carried away by aggregate scores, it’s natural that if you do win, you see if you can win by more than four!

“If we can do that, it would put a five-point gap between ourselves and Ipswich having raced the same number of meetings at home.

“I’m not saying it’s a must-win, but it’s a very important one for us. They beat us at the start of the season so we take nothing for granted, but I do think as a team we are more dialled into the track now.

“We can expect a tough meeting, but I’m confident with the way we’re riding that we can get the two league points, and then if there’s a chance to grab that all-important aggregate point we’ll go for that as well.”

Skipper Chris Harris returns for the Lions after missing the win at Peterborough due to a GP qualifier, but Rising Star reserve Dan Thompson remains on the sidelines as he serves out the remaining days of his mandatory concussion absence.

In his place, Dickson has called up Drew Kemp to guest from the Rising Star list, with the former British Under-19 Champion recently back in UK racing with Scunthorpe in the second tier, and also an ex-Witches rider.

The visitors track their full one-to-seven including a host of Leicester old boys, whilst the experienced Ben Barker is a recent addition to their side having replaced the unwell Erik Riss.

Gates open at the Pidcock Motorcycles Arena, Beaumont Park at 6pm with the meeting getting underway at 7.30pm.

LEICESTER: Max Fricke, Justin Sedgmen, Richard Lawson, Chris Harris, Nick Morris, Jake Allen, Drew Kemp.
IPSWICH: Jason Doyle, Ben Barker, Danny King, Keynan Rew, Emil Sayfutdinov, Danyon Hume, Joe Thompson.

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Leicester Lions V Oxford Spires
May 27, 2024

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