MEETING PREVIEW: Panthers looking for revenge
Peterborough Panthers promoter Ged Rathbone hopes to give East Anglian rivals Ipswich Witches a taste of their own medicine in one way today (Easter Monday - April 17) - but he will resist the temptation to do so in another.
The city racers take to their East of England Showground track (3pm) intent on claiming revenge for a 60-32 SGB Championship drubbing in the reverse fixture on Saturday night (April 15).
That was Panthers’ first defeat of the 2017 season and came at a cost with Paul Starke suffering a shoulder injury that rules him out of today’s clash. Kenneth Hansen is also still out due to illness and is set to undergo a scan in his native Denmark tomorrow.
Club bosses have turned to another Danish ace, Lasse Bjerre, who is always a capable performer at Alwalton, to stand in as a guest for Starke.
He is a former Panthers man who currently rides for Sheffield. They will operate the rider replacement facility to cover Hansen’s absence for a third successive meeting.
Captain Ulrich Ostergaard also withdrew from the drubbing at Ipswich with a knee problem, but he will ride through the pain barrier on home shale after spending yesterday rebuilding equipment as his bike was written off.
Ostergaard was one of many riders to come unstuck in testing track conditions. Rathbone believes they were created deliberately to knock his side out of their stride, but he won’t return the compliment to the Witches.
Rathbone said: “It’s always good to have the opportunity to be able to bounce back quickly from a poor performance and result.
“We need to put things right after the defeat on Saturday night, but we’re not going to panic about one result just as we didn’t get carried away by the four wins that came before it.
“It will be far from easy today given we’re without two of our seven regular riders, but we have a very capable guest in Lasse and we can make rider replacement for Kenneth work at home.
“It is clear from speaking to people at Ipswich on Saturday that they intentionally made their track very grippy to inconvenience us.
“Of course there is nothing to stop them doing that, but it’s not something we would consider doing at the Showground.
“We want our fans to be excited and entertained and we’ll prepare the track accordingly as we always do to ensure it is equal for everyone.
“What the supporters at Ipswich saw the other night was not good speedway.”
Panthers riders were accused of ‘throwing the towel in’ at Foxhall Stadium on Saturday night by Ipswich promoter Chris Louis in a social media post yesterday.
It’s a comment which is sure to add extra spice to a fixture already expected to attract a bumper crowd.
The Witches track the same seven riders who impressed on Saturday and their locally-based team boss Ritchie Hawkins is optimistic his side can complete a quick double.
He said: “We always have good travelling support at the Showground and we’ve had good results there too.
“It will be one of the highlights of the season to win at Peterborough and will give everyone a boost.”
PANTHERS: Lasse Bjerre (guest), Tom Bacon, Rider replacement for Kenneth Hansen, Jack Holder, Simon Lambert, Ulrich Ostergaard, Bradley Wilson-Dean.
IPSWICH: Nico Covatti, Cameron Heeps, Danyon Hume, Danny King, Connor Mountain, James Sarjeant, Rory Schlein.