Scunthorpe Scorpions aiming for three points from Friday night clash with Redcar Bears
The Eddie Wright Raceway is the venue for an important Speedway Premier League clash tonight (Friday Sept 14) as the Scunthorpe Scorpions seek to score three league points against the Redcar Bears and continue their push for a top two finish in the regular season table, prior to the commencement of the play-offs (7.30pm start).
But they must do it without Danish ace Thomas Jørgensen, who is recovering from a dislocated shoulder, following a heavy fall during last week’s Scunthorpe v Rye House clash.
The Scorpions are already mathematically certain of a place in the top six and a slot in the play-offs. Therefore there will be two additional meetings at the Eddie Wright Raceway in either late September or early October, as the Scorpions contest one of the two mini-groups of three teams, which will determine the finalists of the play-offs.
But finishing first or second in the regular table brings the reward of avoiding the other team at the top and also having some say in choosing your mini-group opponents, with the teams finishing first and second picking, in turn, from the third to sixth placed teams.
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The situation is ever evolving, but still looks good for the Scorpions. If they were to win their final two home league matches – against Redcar on Friday and Glasgow a week on Friday - by 7 points or more, to claim the maximum of three Premier League points from each meeting, the Scorpions would finish on 50 points.
That would put them out of reach of everyone except Newcastle (maximum of 55 points), Leicester (maximum 53 points) and Workington (maximum 51 points). Current league leaders Somerset can only reach 48 points. Looking at race points difference should any of the teams finish level, it currently stands at Newcastle (+148), Somerset (+115), Workington (+88), Scunthorpe (+74) and Leicester (+12).
There is a good chance of Newcastle reaching 50 points, since one of their remaining away meetings is at bottom club Plymouth.
However, with their inferior race points, Leicester would need to reach 51 points if the Scorpions finished in 50. In other words, they would have to win all three of their remaining away meetings, including one by more than 7 points. The Lions have enjoyed an excellent season, but that is a very, very tough ask.
Workington’s key match is away at Somerset on Friday. They need a win, preferably by more than 7 points, to keep alive their chances of a top two place. If Somerset were to take all three points from this meeting, it would leave the Rebels on a final tally of 48 points, and the most Workington could score would be 47. In that case, a final total of 49 points would probably gain second place in the table for the Scorpions, enabling them to drop a point against either Redcar or Glasgow.
Team manager Richard Hollingsworth keeps spreadsheets containing all this information, but refuses to get lost in all the permutations.
He said: “We will just take these final two meetings one at a time, and not get distracted by results elsewhere.
“The Redcar Bears are not a team to be under-estimated. They stayed with us during most of the League Cup match here earlier in the season. They have a fine spearhead in Ulrich Ostergaard and Aaron Summers, and also a track specialist in Scunthorpe legend Wilko (Carl Wilkinson).
“It is a blow to be without Thomas, who is back in Denmark receiving specialist treatment. Thomas is currently scoring far above his average and difficult to replace. We would definitely like Thomas back in the team in time for the play-offs.
“With both David (Howe) and Thomas out, we have a choice how to cover them. As rider replacement scored a paid maximum for David last week, but would be very limited for Thomas, we have decided to use R/R for David and bring in Sheffield’s Hugh Skidmore as a guest for Thomas.
“We’ve seen some excellent all-around team performances for the Scorpions in recent weeks, and that’s what we need again on Friday. Riders such as Ashley Birks, Michael Palm Toft and Gary Irving seem to be peaking at the perfect time – when our riders fifth, sixth and seventh in our averages are scoring heavily around the Eddie Wright Raceway, it makes us very hard to beat around here.
“Our spearhead of Josh Auty and Nick Morris are also on form at the moment. Another complete team performance from the Scorpions would be very welcome”, Hollingsworth concluded.
Tonight's action is concluded by a six-heat Midland Development League match between the Scunthorpe Stags and the Stoke Spitfires. The Stags will be represented by Danny Phillips, Tommy Fenwick, Adam Kirby and David Holt.
Henderson Insurance Scunthorpe Scorpions: 1. Josh Auty, 2. David Howe R/R, 3. Hugh Skidmore (Australia), 4. Ashley Birks, 5. Nick Morris (Australia), 6. Michael Palm Toft (Denmark), 7. Gary Irving.
Redcar Bears: 1. Ulrich Ostergaard (Denmark), 2. Carl Wilkinson, 3. Kevin Doolan (Australia), 4. Aaron Summers (Australia), 5. Matej Kus (Czech Republic), 6. Max Dilger (Germany), 7. Jade Mudgway (New Zealand).
STEFAN NIELSEN BRITISH UNDER-19 CHAMPION
Scunthorpe asset Stefan Nielsen was a deserving winner of the British Under-19 Championship at Sheffield last night (Thursday).
The 17-year-old scored 12 points in the heats before winning both the semi-final and final to clinch the championship.
Richard Hollingsworth said: “We’re so proud of Stefan. He has come such a long way in the last two seasons, since he started riding for the Saints in the National League."