Ipswich Witches 69 Workington Comets 23: Workington Comets suffered their worst defeat since speedway returned to the town in 1999 in a 46-point demolition at rival play-offs hopefuls Ipswich.

Comets manager Tony Jackson, who was not in attendance and was replaced by stand-in manager John Sampford for the meeting, said the result – which surpassed Workington’s 67-24 loss at Exeter in 2001 – bordered on embarrassing.

He added: “I’ve spoken to John and he said the lads struggled early on because the track was quite rough and gating was all-important but on the odd occasion we made the gate they were just bouncing around.

“You don’t need to tell riders on a night like tonight that they’ve had a bad night because they know it. The riders obviously need to look at themselves. We’ve got to bounce back at the weekend.”

Comets started meekly with a 5-1 to the hosts in the opening heat, Danny King and James Sarjeant winning ahead of Ricky Wells in a rerun after Sarjeant had jumped the start.

Matt Williamson got out of the gate brightly in heat two but fell while leading and was excluded from the rerun. Adam Roynon bolted in the third heat but was quickly caught by first Joe Jacobs then Danyon Hume, who passed his teammate for the win to stretch the Witches’ lead to eight points.

Comets drifted to 12 points behind as Nico Covatti and Morten Risager controlled heat three, before Claus Vissing split Ben Barker and Hume for a 4-2 to the home side.

Wells took a tactical ride in heat five as Comets tried to halt Ipswich’s early charge but the American couldn’t edge past Covatti as the points were shared in a 4-4.

King and Sarjeant delivered another emphatic 5-1 in heat six as Comets struggled to gain a foothold in the meeting, with Roynon and Vissing at the back.

Former Comet Jacobs won heat seven, with Barker protecting him from Jensen and Campton to put Workington 22 points behind after seven heats. Campton slotted in behind Sarjeant in heat eight but Hume swept past him on the third lap to join his teammate for another 5-1, then Covatti and Risager racked up another in front of Roynon and Vissing as the meeting turned into damage limitation for Comets.

King and Sarjeant continued their dominance with maximum points in heat 10, before Wells at least stopped the run of 5-1s by driving up the inside of Jacobs to follow Barker home.

Jensen muscled his way past the in-form Hume into second behind Covatti in heat 12, but a strong start from Wells wasn’t enough to keep King and Barker quiet as they romped to another win in heat 13.

The string of comfortable victories for the Witches looked like continuing in heat 14 when Risager and Jacobs gated on a 5-1, but Jensen had other ideas.

The Dane pipped the pair to become the first winning Comet on the night in a 3-3 and cap a strong individual performance from him.

But another 5-1 for the hugely effective King and Sarjeant ended a night to forget for Workington.

IPSWICH WITCHES 69: Danny King 15, Nico Covatti 12, James Sarjeant 11+4, Ben Barker 10+2, Morten Risager 7+2, Joe Jacobs 7+2, Danyon Hume 7+1

WORKINGTON COMETS 23: Ricky Wells 8, Rasmus Jensen 8, Claus Vissing 3, Adam Roynon 3, Mason Campton 1, Matt Williamson 0, Kenneth Hansen r/r

Premier League points: Ipswich 3 Workington 0