Simon Stead says a good start is important for his Sheffield side as they look to win the league title at Ipswich tonight.
Tigers hold a handy 16-point advantage from Thursday’s thrilling home leg but Stead remains cautious rather than confident. Scott Nicholls, the former Grand Prix and World Cup star, has been drafted in by Stead to replace injured Aussie Josh Grajczonek in the No.1 spot.
And Stead, who was in the last Sheffield title winning team 15 years ago, is targeting a close contest in the opening heats to keep his side well ahead on aggregate.
He said: “We know we’re only half way there, and the second half of the journey will feel a much longer one I’m sure.
“We need to be at our best because like ourselves, Ipswich are a very strong side at home.
“If we can keep it close early on and not let them get back into it in the first five or six races then that will boost us going into the rest of the meeting.
“We sincerely hope the boys can do it. It’s been a long time since Sheffield had a league title to celebrate, but hopefully that wait will come to an end at Ipswich.”
Stead paid tribute to his riders for a fine display on Thursday to give them a real chance tonight.
He said: “Everyone was giving it 100 per cent and never gave up until they’d crossed that finishing line and as a team manager you can’t ask for much more than that. Josh Bates was unbelievable, not just with his score but with the way he rode as well and he showed how much this means to him personally.
“But it was an important, solid team effort all round and it was a fantastic first leg for us.
“The one disappointment was losing Josh (Grajczonek) after his first two rides, but the team responded to that by stepping up to the plate and they did us all proud.”
IPSWICH: Danny King, Justin Sedgmen R/R, Cameron Heeps, Kyle Newman, Rory Schlein, Nathan Greaves, Alfie Bowtell.
SHEFFIELD: Scott Nicholls, Todd Kurtz, Lasse Bjerre, Josh Bates, Kyle Howarth, Jan Graversen, Georgie Wood.