LATEST NEWS: From public enemy number one to team-mate
Team manager Carl Johnson insists Peterborough Panthers have made the correct choice of guest number one for a crunch SGB Championship clash tonight (July 8).
The city team have turned to Ben Barker to lead their challenge at Glasgow (7pm), even though he has been involved in a couple of controversial incidents with their star man Jack Holder this season.
Barker rode into Holder following the conclusion of heat 15 when Panthers beat his Redcar side in a KO Cup first round, first leg at the East of England Arena back in April.
That petulant act left Holder with major damage to his front wheel and he found himself in the same situation after being on the receiving end of some aggressive Barker riding in Panthers’ 52-40 league triumph at Redcar on Thursday night (July 6).
Holder was able to finish the ninth heat in second place but was probably fortunate that his front wheel didn’t buckle due to damaged spokes.
But Johnson is confident both men will be singing from the same hymn-sheet tonight as Panthers bid to extend their four-match winning run against third-placed hosts.
“I don’t mind admitting that we’ve not been happy with Ben a couple of times this season,” said Johnson.
“What he did after the race at our place earlier in the year was needless and could have injured himself and Jack.
“He also took hard riding to the extreme at Redcar on Thursday when nearly putting Jack in the fence.
“It is incredible that Jack made it through the race given the damage to his front wheel and it could have been very nasty if it had collapsed at high-speed.
“But riding against someone is very different to having them as a team-mate and I’m sure Ben and Jack will get along just fine tonight.
“They will have a common goal of helping us get a result at Glasgow and we’ll head up there believing we are capable of doing that.
“Whatever people may say about Ben, he never gives anything less than 110 per cent and is great at firing up the other boys in a team.
“I feel he is the right man for the job at Glasgow. He rode there for part of last season, he scored well there the other week and he will ruffle a few feathers which is also important when taking on a top team on their own track.”
Panthers have closed to within seven points of the SGB Championship play-off places thanks to a four-meeting winning run.
Their purple patch includes a 55-37 victory against Glasgow at the East of England Arena just under a fortnight ago.
That is the only time the Tigers have failed to pick up at least a point from a league meeting all season.
Panthers hope to have captain Ulrich Ostergaard back tonight after a bout of sickness forced him to sit out the success at Redcar.
Johnson added: “Glasgow have a great record at home, but we’ll go into the meeting full of belief that we can get a result.
“The pressure is on them to before and they will be wary of the threat we pose.”
GLASGOW: Richard Lawson, Nike Lunna, Richie Worrall, Dan Bewley, Aaron Summers, Tom Perry, Jack Smith.
PETERBOROUGH: Ben Barker (guest), Bradley Wilson-Dean, Paul Starke, Ulrich Ostergaard, Jack Holder, Liam Carr, Tom Bacon.
* Panthers man Chris Harris represents Great Britain in tonight’s World Cup final.
They face hosts Poland, Denmark and Russia in Leszno.