Make or break time in the chase for silverware

Thomas Jorgensen leads the way for Panthers against Lakeside on Sunday.
Thomas Jorgensen leads the way for Panthers against Lakeside on Sunday.
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Team manager Carl Johnson is convinced Panthers can rise to the challenge during the most important three days of their season.

The city team complete a trilogy of crunch clashes against Lakeside when facing the Hammers in an SGB Championship play-offs semi-final this weekend.

Panthers travel to Rye House for the opening leg on Saturday (7pm) before staging the return clash at the East of England Arena on Sunday (5pm).

But before they can turn their attention to their regular rivals, they must first negotiate a first leg trip to Scunthorpe tomorrow (Friday, 7.30pm) in the last four of the KO Cup.

Johnson said: “It’s make or break time for us now with three huge meetings in three days.

“Defending the KO Cup has always been a big priority and we need a good performance at Scunthorpe to not only help do that, but also to set us up nicely for the play-off semi over the weekend.

“We got the result against Lakeside in the KO Cup but we were gutted to go out of the Shield to them and we have to bounce straight back from that.

“We know where we went wrong in that competition and we know it can be put right.

“We’d obviously love to be going into such big meetings with a full team of our own riders, but unfortunately that’s not possible.

“We owe it to the guys who are out injured to finish the job they helped us to start and we need everyone behind us.

“The last two crowds certainly haven’t been among our biggest of the season, but hopefully the people of Peterborough will turn out in force on Sunday.

“Every person who comes through the gate will have a part to play.”

Panthers have called up five different guests to represent them during the next three days.

They have booked Tero Aarnio (Friday), Aaron Summers (Saturday) and Thomas Jorgensen (Sunday) to occupy their number one berth.

Summers is a possible doubt after a crash last week which forced him to pull out of an SGB Premiership play-off appearance for Somerset on Monday. Panthers have a stand-by option in place.

Hot Ipswich Witches prospect Drew Kemp stands in at reserve on Friday before frequent guest Jordan Stewart takes over for the weekend against Lakeside.

Panthers also operate rider replacement for Bradley Wilson-Dean in all three meetings after the Kiwi racer underwent what is likely to be season-ending collar-bone surgery last week.

And they are monitoring the fitness of Emil Grondal who took a hefty blow to the hand in a crash during the SGB Championship Shield semi-final, second leg against Lakeside last Sunday.

The second leg of the KO Cup semi against Scunthorpe has been scheduled for Saturday, October 13 at Alwalton.

n Johnson insists there is no bad blood between Panthers and Lakeside despite a melee breaking out in the pits during the KO Cup quarter-final, second leg at Rye House last Saturday night.

It followed a heat six battle in which Panthers rider Michael Palm Toft got the better of Hammers man Richard Lawson.

Johnson added: “Emotions can run high in sport - especially when there is a lot at stake as there was last Saturday night.

“Michael did absolutely nothing wrong, but Richard took offence to it for whatever reason and wanted to have a few words with him.

“I felt he was out of order as were a couple of other people who got involved.

“It was something which should never have got as far as it did.”