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Cook makes quick return to top flight action PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Walsh   
Thursday, 10 June 2021

craig cook.pngIPSWICH have announced their intention to bring in Craig Cook (pictured) and Paul Starke as they bid to alleviate their early-season injury crisis.

The two riders are expected to make their Witches debuts in tonight’s Premiership clash with Peterborough as the club currently have Jason Crump, Cameron Heeps and Jordan Stewart on the sidelines.

Co-promoter Chris Louis said: “We have got to this point purely because of injuries and circumstances. It was one of the worst weeks that I can remember in Ipswich Speedway’s history.

“I could never have anticipated losing three riders in a week and it has forced our hand. This season is condensed, it is coming thick and fast and it is always going to be difficult getting suitable guests, and when you are three riders down your hand is forced, you have to make changes and you have to act fast.”

Former Workington Comets star Cook was sensationally axed by King’s Lynn last week after a particularly poor meeting.

Louis said: “I spoke at length to Craig about what happened at King’s Lynn and he absolutely convinced me that he just had a bad couple of meetings. Like a lot of riders, he had an enforced long break and he has got to get his head around that.

“Paul is a settled lad and he’s a guy that everyone gets on with, and I know he will settle straight into the team. To lose both Jordan and Cam is extremely tough but we couldn’t wait to see how long these injuries will take because they are a little bit unknown.”

New-look Ipswich host Peterborough in an East Anglian derby tonight.

Louis said: “We have to get back to winning ways, we can’t keep letting this slide because the season is too short to have an elongated period where we are not winning home or away. It is vital that we get a win.

“They (Peterborough) have been written off wrongly because they are a team of experienced riders.

“It is going to depend on any given night and how many of them don’t perform, but they have all been good riders so they will all have good nights and if they all choose to have them on the same night then they are a match for anyone as they proved at Belle Vue.”

Panthers skipper Scott Nicholls said: “We go to Ipswich and look for similar form to what we showed on Monday.

“It was a great night and a fine performance from all the boys. I was pleased to stay unbeaten because I’ve not had a lot of speed around Peterborough at times, but everything fell into place for me.

“Ipswich is a track I know well and with all our experience we have all, apart from Jordan Palin, gone well around there at one time or another. It would be a massive result for us if we could go there and get a result.”

WOLVERHAMPTON owner Chris Van Straaten has revealed how the club are suffering ‘severe losses’ operating under strict reduced audience numbers.

Van Straaten says it’s vital the roadmap remains on course for social distancing to be reduced or ruled out completely in order for the club to continue racing.

He warned: “It’s a dire situation for us, we are suffering severe losses every time we stage a home meeting because we simply cannot get any more supporters in due to the restrictions.

“It’s vital for us that Boris Johnson stays firm and sticks to the relaxing of social distancing to enable us to get more people on the terraces in the open air.

“We cannot be the only business struggling due to these restrictions which we have to adhere to after working with Wolverhampton City Council officials to get us reopened after 20 months.

“We’ve stuck to the book and done everything properly and I understand some fans have been frustrated, particularly in the warm weather. We’ve had every space taken on the terraces so people who have indoor tickets couldn’t leave indoors and go outside, but they are the rules and I understand the frustration.

“We are not trying to belittle the awful consequences of the Covid virus which has affected so many people.

“I believe the vaccination rollout has been a massive success and that’s one box ticked, along with the fact that hospitalisations and death figures remain relatively low.

“The vast majority of adults have now had at least one vaccine and we have to unlock to allow the economy to recover.

“I would be heartbroken if Wolverhampton Speedway became one of those businesses to close down as a consequence of ongoing restrictions – but that is a possibility I cannot rule out at this stage because we simply cannot continue to sustain losses.”

GLASGOW’S sensational start to the season continued with a 48-42 win at Birmingham on Wednesday.

That man Craig Cook won a last-heat decider for the Tigers to move them onto 13 league points from a possible 14, after the Brummies had threatened to stage a grandstand comeback.

Cook scored 12 points for the visitors, who had been eight points up before Erik Riss (15) and Chris Harris grabbed a 5-1 in Heat 13 to set up a close finish.

Tigers boss Cami Brown said: “It's absolutely brilliant, I'm chuffed to bits. Again, it was a gutsy performance and again everybody contributed.

“The guys who didn't do well last night did well tonight - so the team set-up is working like we hoped it would. When they all get going together it's going to be frightening.

“Going on a southern tour and coming back with seven points is excellent. It's a pity we came within just one point of getting the fourth tonight but that's just being greedy.”

Birmingham promoter David Mason said: “There’s no disgrace in losing to this Glasgow team with the confidence they’ve got and despite us having a strong team ourselves, there would have been people out there who wouldn’t have given us a chance of pushing them all the way.

“I have to say a big thanks to Dixie Dean (track curator) and also to Wolverhampton promoter Chris Van Straaten and the three members of his track team too.

“Nobody has a clue about the amount of work they’ve had to pull out of the bag in such a short space of time and while it was far from perfect, I think everyone will agree with me when I say we were much happier and very encouraged.”

POOLE defeated Berwick 52-38 in their opening fixture at Wimborne Road with newcomer Ben Cook again making a big impression.

Cook, who impressed at Glasgow last week, racked up 13 points on his home debut, with Steve Worrall (13+1) dropping just one point and former Pirates star Hans Andersen making a successful guest appearance with 12+2.

Berwick reserves Leon Flint (11+2) and ex-Workington youngster Kyle Bickley (8+1) both gave excellent displays for the visitors but they were left point-less from their Southern tour.

Poole boss Neil Middleditch said: “I thought he (Cook) was superb, especially after all his problems at Eastbourne in our opener, he is really beginning to show us what a good little rider we have in him.

“Overall I thought it was a good team effort all round. I am encouraged with the way the team is blending and as I have always said, trophies are not handed out in June, but there is enough talent in the side to give us real belief that we can be there at the end.”

Berwick boss Gary Flint said: “Again we saw plenty of effort from the Bandits tonight, but sadly yet again we left Poole with no league points although Leon and Kyle especially did their best to take something from the meeting.

“Well done to the Pirates, and their Ben Cook looks a real prospect for the future who was sensational.

“It's time for us to regroup now and get ready to take all the points from Redcar Bears up at Shielfield Park on Saturday night.”

NEW-LOOK Ipswich host Peterborough in an East Anglian derby tonight (Thursday).
The Witches have had a tough run of results and injuries and have announced they will be tracking Craig Cook and Paul Starke in their side – whilst the Panthers are on a high after a big home win over King’s Lynn.
Ipswich promoter Chris Louis said: “We have to get back to winning ways, we can’t keep letting this slide because the season is too short to have an elongated period where we are not winning home or away. It is vital that we get a win on Thursday.
“They (Peterborough) have been written off wrongly because they are a team of experienced riders.
“It is going to depend on any given night and how many of them don’t perform, but they have all been good riders so they will all have good nights and if they all choose to have them on the same night then they are a match for anyone as they proved at Belle Vue.”
Panthers skipper Scott Nicholls said: “We go to Ipswich and look for similar form to what we showed on Monday.
“It was a great night and a fine performance from all the boys. I was pleased to stay unbeaten because I’ve not had a lot of speed around Peterborough at times, but everything fell into place for me.
“Ipswich is a track I know well and with all our experience we have all, apart from Jordan Palin, gone well around there at one time or another. It would be a massive result for us if we could go there and get a result.”

FIXTURES -  Tonight: PREMIERSHIP - Ipswich v Peterborough 7.30

FRIDAY JUNE 11 - CHAMPIONSHIP: Edinburgh v Leicester 7.30, Glasgow v Redcar 7.30, Scunthorpe v Newcastle 7.30

SATURDAY JUNE 12: CHAMPIONSHIP: Berwick v Redcar 7pm, Eastbourne v Edinburgh 7.30
CHAMPIONSHIP KO CUP Q/F 2nd leg: Leicester v Scunthorpe 7pm.




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