PREVIEW: Perfect Peterborough Panthers can still get better

Robert Lambert in action for Panthers.
Robert Lambert in action for Panthers.
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Team manager Carl Johnson has told his Peterborough Panthers riders to up their home performances – despite winning all four competitive East of England Arena outings to date in 2017.

The city side have recorded victories against Scunthorpe, Ipswich and Edinburgh in the SGB Championship and also triumphed against Redcar in the first leg of their KO Cup preliminary round tie.

Tom Bacon leads the way for Panthers in last weekend's meeting with Alwalton.

Tom Bacon leads the way for Panthers in last weekend's meeting with Alwalton.

And while the winning run is the first step towards turning the Alwalton track back into a fortress after a couple of seasons of miserable home form, Johnson admits the results so far have not been convincing enough for his liking.

And that’s something he wants to change when Panthers entertain Newcastle tomorrow (May 13, 7pm start) in a meeting expected to attract a bumper attendance as it forms part of the big MCN Festival of Motorcycling bash.

Johnson said: “The unbeaten home record is obviously a step in the right direction, but we still need to do better.

“We could really do with winning by at least 10 points at home and we’ve only managed that once so far this season.

“The result of our last two home meetings, against Ipswich and Edinburgh, has been in the balance going into the final race.

“We need to aim to get things done a bit earlier to take the pressure off ourselves in the closing stages.

“We shouldn’t really be falling short of the 50-point mark at home and that’s something we’ve got to address.

“We also need to be smarter out on the track in some situations. Sometimes you have to put a wheel in a place where you could get hurt, but that’s part of the job of being a speedway rider.

“The way our team is built, it relies on all seven riders performing to their averages. That’s not quite happening at the moment and when it doesn’t, we are vulnerable.”

A 49-39 victory against Redcar has been Panthers’ most emphatic home result so far, but Ipswich and Edinburgh have both departed with a consolation league point.

Bettering that on Saturday won’t be easy with Newcastle boasting a powerful team that features two former Panthers men in British Under 21 champion Robert Lambert – controversially axed by the club during 2015 – and Ash Morris, who had a spell here last term.

Newcastle have also drafted in the highly-rated James Shanes to guest at reserve for serious injury victim Danny Phillips.

Shanes impressed when triumphing at the East of England Arena in a British Under 21 Championship semi-final last month and has been in good form at SGB Premiership level with Poole.

Phillips, an asset of Panthers, suffered a broken back and broken femur in a crash while racing for his National League club, King’s Lynn Young Stars, at Mildenhall last Sunday.

He had to be airlifted to Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge where he has since undergone surgery with a further operation likely to be required.

TEAMS

PANTHERS: Jack Holder, Simon Lambert, Paul Starke, Ulrich Ostergaard, Kenneth Hansen, Bradley Wilson-Dean, Tom Bacon.

NEWCASTLE: Robert Lambert, Ashley Morris, Lewis Rose, Ludvig Lindgren, Steve Worrall, Connor Coles, James Shanes (guest).