Shield clash arranged for Tuesday

Scott Nicholls out in front for Panthers against Redcar.
Scott Nicholls out in front for Panthers against Redcar.
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Panthers owner Ged Rathbone insists he had no alternative other than to stage the club’s remaining SGB Championship Shield clash on Tuesday (April 24).

The city team entertain Ipswich in an East Anglian derby in a rare midweek outing which also has a later-than-usual 8pm start-time.

Panthers are a point behind Southern Group leaders Lakeside, who travel to Ipswich for their final outing this Saturday.

Only the winners of the three groups – Southern, Northern and Borders – are guaranteed semi-final spots with the best second-placed side also advancing.

Rathbone said: “Under normal circumstances running a Tuesday night meeting against Ipswich, who give us some of our biggest crowds of the season, is not ideal.

“However, it’s a decision we’ve had to take for the good of the sport, with the need to progress the competition and us not having any other spare home dates until much later in the season.

“We went for 8pm so that it hopefully isn’t a major rush after work for our own supporters, and also to assist Ipswich fans to make it.

“It’s going to be an important meeting and clearly the ideal scenario is that we go into it needing a win to book our place in the semi-finals.

“Even if Lakeside get a result at Ipswich on Saturday to win the group, we will still need a victory to put us in a good position to be the best runners-up and reach the semi-finals that way.”

Panthers, who triumphed 46-44 at Ipswich last month, are expected to have Michael Palm Toft back from an ankle injury.