SPEEDWAY: Panthers confident of passing play-off test

Ben Barker is hoping to lead Panthers into the play-off semi-finals.
Ben Barker is hoping to lead Panthers into the play-off semi-finals.
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Peterborough Panthers joint boss Carl Johnson is confident his riders will pass their latest Premier League play-off test today (September 27).

The city racers face a second-leg clash against Sheffield at the East of England Showground (5pm) as their stormy quarter-final clash comes to a conclusion.

Panthers go into battle with a 46-44 advantage following a stunning first leg triumph at Owlerton 10 days ago.

A Ben Barker maximum inspired a rousing comeback as they recovered from 12 points down to snatch victory and become favourites to progress into a semi-final showdown against Edinburgh.

But Johnson insists there is plenty of work still to be done for that to happen.

He said: “We’re only halfway there and halfway is nowhere.

“It was a great result up in Sheffield and it has probably made us favourites to go through, but we’ve still got to perform at our place as they will be desperate for revenge.

“I’m looking forward to it and so are the riders. Everyone wants to be involved in big meetings at this stage of the season.

“The riders know what is at stake and it is the sort of meeting which may well come down to who wants it the most.

“You only have to speak to our boys to see they want it pretty badly and I’m sure they will produce the right performance.”

Both clubs are without their injured captains today.

Panthers have chosen to operate rider replacement to cover the absence of Ulrich Ostergaard – whose season is over due to a broken foot - at number one with no suitable guest available.

Workington star Ricky Wells has picked up an injury while riding motocross, Ipswich ace Rohan Tungate has commitments in Poland and King’s Lynn talent Nicklas Porsing is also unavailable.

Panthers are able to call upon World Under 21 Championship runner-up Anders Thomsen after he missed the opening leg with illness. The highly-rated Dane has racked up 33 points in just three meetings since joining the city club last month.

Sheffield have drafted in Workington man Kyle Howarth to replace their sidelined top man, Jason Garrity.

Panthers bosses are hoping for a bumper turnout after launching a ‘Target: 2000’ campaign. If successful they would come close to doubling their regular attendance.

Promoter Ged Rathbone is also encouraging supporters to create a ‘carnival atmosphere’ for the occasion.

He said: “This is a special day and we want to make it a memorable one which leads to even bigger meetings in the coming weeks.

“I want as many people as possible to sport club colours of red and black to show that we are all one.

“The more flags and signs there are the merrier as well. The same goes for drums, trumpets and air horns.

“Anything that makes a noise or adds to the atmosphere is fine by me.”

TEAMS

PANTHERS: Ben Barker, Emil Grondal, Rafal Konopka, Simon Lambert, Rider replacement for Ulrich Ostergaard, Michael Palm Toft, Anders Thomsen.

SHEFFIELD: Robin Aspegren, Josh Bates, David Bellego, Paco Castagna, Andre Compton, Kyle Howarth (guest), Nicolai Klindt.