Raging Rathbone threatens to wield the axe once again

Ged Rathbone.

Ged Rathbone.

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Ruthless Ged Rathbone insists he won’t be afraid to wield the Panthers axe again.

The ambitious promoter was left seething after seeing another opportunity to win silverware all but disappear earlier this week.

Panthers were annihilated 62-28 in the opening leg of their Premier League KO Cup quarter-final tie against Somerset on Tuesday night.

They now have virtually no chance of turning the tie around in the second leg at the East of England Showground on Sunday (5pm) – even more so given the Rebels’ fine record at Alwalton, where they have won in their last four visits.

And Rathbone was quick to admit he will not tolerate any more performances as pitiful as the one produced in the South-West.

He said: “I’ve already made changes this season to improve the team and I won’t hesitate to do it again if necessary.

“I’ve made no secret of the fact that I’m in speedway to win things and I will do everything in my power to ensure we have a line-up capable of doing that.

“I’ve given up far too much time and money to just sit back and tolerate the sort of performance and result we had down at Somerset.

“It is completely unacceptable to lose a speedway meeting by that sort of margin and the riders need to look at themselves as professional sportsmen.

“They must realise what they produced at Somerset was nowhere near good enough.

“Nights like Tuesday are a test of character, but we just rolled over rather than standing up to be counted. It pains and upsets to me to say it was men against boys.

“But we had been in excellent form ahead of the defeat and the challenge now is to respond immediately.

“Nothing less than a victory will do on Sunday. It is about salvaging some pride and producing the right sort of performance in front of our own fans..”

Panthers had reeled off six successive victories – a hot streak which catapulted them into Premier League title contention – before delivering their KO Cup horror show.

They did briefly top the league table last week before being relegated to second spot by new leaders Sheffield. They are likely to slide further in the coming days with other sides in action while they don’t have another league meeting themselves until July 12.

Rathbone has already made three changes to the Panthers side this season.

He dropped Danish pair Nicklas Porsing and Michael Palm Toft to bring in new number one Craig Cook and local lad Tom Stokes back in May. Then Stokes was axed after only one meeting in favour of Czech prospect Zdenek Holub.