Make or break fixtures coming up this month

Panthers team manager Carl Johnson.
Panthers team manager Carl Johnson.
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Panthers are heading into a season-defining spell of racing.

That is the view of team manager Carl Johnson ahead of a run of five Premier League fixtures in little more than a fortnight.

The city racers return from a two-week lay-off when they entertain East Anglian rivals Ipswich at the East of England Showground tomorrow night (Friday, 7.30pm).

That is swiftly followed by a Sunday trip to Newcastle with Panthers again on the road next week when visiting Rye House on Saturday, June 18.

They then have back-to-back home meetings with a televised showdown against big-guns Glasgow on June 24 followed by a visit from Plymouth on June 28.

And Johnson reckons the outcome of those fixtures will have a major bearing on whether or not his unbeaten men can be classed as serious contenders for glory.

He said: “June is going to be a very big month in our season and I’m of the opinion that the next couple of weeks could determine whether or not we make the play-offs.

“We have meetings coming up against other teams who I expect to be up there challenging for places in the top six.

“We have to be pleased with our start to the league season but we are well aware of the fact we need to continue picking up points home and away.

“We have to be realistic and accept our unbeaten record is going to go at some point and it may well happen during this busy spell.

“Other teams will be determined to be the first to beat us, but they will also be wary of facing us because of the form we have been in.”

The second leg of the club’s KO Cup first round clash against Plymouth also falls into the busy spell.

Panthers travel to Devon next Thursday (June 18) in possession of a two-point cushion after a narrow 46-44 first leg success on May Bank Holiday Monday.

Johnson added: “We’ve won twice at Plymouth already this season and we need to go down there and do it again.

“We went out of the League Cup at the first hurdle and we certainly don’t want to go out of the KO Cup early as well.

“It is a strange situation with ourselves and Plymouth as we have proved we are very good at their place and they have also pushed us far too close to comfort in a couple of visits to the Showground.”