Peterborough Panthers riding for local pride as well as important league points
Peterborough Panthers team boss Carl Johnson insists Peterborough Panthers have to win the battle for local pride and league points on Monday (July 1).
The city club entertain East Anglian derby rivals Ipswich Witches at the East of England Arena (7.30pm) – a crucial clash in the race for the SGB Premiership play-offs.
Panthers, who currently sit fourth, were thumped 51-39 when the second-placed Witches last visited Alwalton back in May. They also suffered a controversial 49-41 reverse in Suffolk at the beginning of June.
Johnson’s men have reeled off three successive wins on home shale since that drubbing by seeing off reigning champions Poole, another set of local rivals King’s Lynn, and Swindon.
“We obviously have to do a lot better against Ipswich than we did the last time we were here,” said Johnson. “And I fully expect that to be the case.
“It’s never nice to lose at home in front of our own fans. It’s even worse when it is a heavy defeat at the hands of your local rivals and we definitely don’t want to experience that again.
“I don’t really mind if away teams leave with a point as long as we get three and keep our good run at home going.
“We’ve won three in a row at home and hopefully we can add another three against Ipswich, Wolverhampton and Belle Vue in the next couple of weeks. That will obviously be the aim.
“This run of home meetings is going to have a major impact on whether we make the play-offs or fall short.
“We could be in a slightly better position than fourth, but we’ve had to overcome a few issues with riders and machinery along the way.
“Overall it’s been brilliant to be in the top league and the challenge now is to make sure we keep ourselves in the top four.”
New averages will be released for July which lift Wilson-Dean back into the main body of the Panthers team and push Josh Bates down to reserve.
That means the only option to cover the absence of the Kiwi is the rider replacement facility, but Johnson admits Panthers bosses are still exploring possible signing options.
Wilson-Dean was due to see a specialist this week but is hopeful of returning to the saddle in mid-July. Panthers have called up Aussie ace Ty Proctor as an injury replacement.
The New Zealand champion has thanked generous Panthers fans who raised £1240 to aid his recovery.
Wilson-Dean held a raffle during the club’s success against Swindon last Thursday.
He said: “It was an amazing show of support and I can’t thank everyone at Peterborough enough.”
After the Ipswich meeting Posh also host bottom club Wolverhampton on July 11 and table-topping Belle Vue on July 15.
Former Panthers star Shane Parker suffered a heart attack last week.
The Australian ace raced for the club in three successive seasons from 2001 to 2003 as part of a career in Britain which spanned more than 20 years.
“Shane was an excellent servant to Peterborough Speedway and I’m sure everyone connected to the club sends him their best wishes,” said Johnson.