Changes ahead after an ‘embarrassing’ defeat

Panthers team boss Carl Johnson says there could be changes in the wake of an ‘embarrassing’ East Anglian derby defeat.

Thursday, 16th May 2019, 8:59 am
Charles Wright was in superb form again against Ipswich.

The city team were thumped 51-39 by Ipswich in a miserable SGB Premiership outing at the East of England Arena on Monday night.

The Panthers chief has refused to disclose the riders that could be under threat - or indeed their targets - but several members of the city side have suffered from poor form and mechanical issues in the early weeks of the campaign.

“We can’t tolerate any more embarrassing performances and results like the one we had on Monday,” said Johnson.

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“We failed to make starts, we weren’t hard enough in the first turn, we didn’t get to grips with the track and we never looked like getting anything from it.

“We’ve now had eight meetings this season and it’s clear we’ve reached a point where we need to boost the team.

“We believe we have identified a couple of riders who can make a difference for us and we’ve entered into talks with them.

“It can be a lengthy process, but there is a possibility of having a new face or faces in the team by the time we race again.”

The city club have lost three of their opening five league meetings with just one win and one draw on the board so far. They also went out of the SGB Premiership Supporters’ Cup at the group stage.

Panthers’ plans for their top-flight return after five years in the second tier were plunged into disarray by the eve-of-the-season exit of Craig Cook.

The former British champion was then replaced by reserve Aaron Summers with Panthers bosses unable to attract a like-for-like replacement.

The team was three points under the 42.50 limit for the early weeks of the season, but Ben Barker and Lasse Bjerre have since seen their rolling averages jump significantly.

They are probably the two riders most likely to be under threat if Panthers’ plan for changes comes to fruition.

One man certainly not likely to be losing his place is Charles Wright, who receives high praise from Johnson in the wake of the defeat to Ipswich.

Wright piled up 14 points against the Witches after slamming in a brilliant 16+2 in the loss at Swindon a week earlier.

“Charles has been absolutely fantastic,” added Johnson. “He’s carried the team lately.

“He always goes out there and gives 110 per cent in every race and I don’t think I can say that about all of the riders.”