Friday September 07, 2018
PETERBOROUGH can take another big step towards the Championship play-offs with a win over Berwick at the East of England Arena on Sunday (5pm).

Three points for the T.Balfe Construction Panthers would take them onto 41, ahead of trips to Workington (September 14) and Lakeside (tba) – and whilst there are still numerous possible permutations, it is unlikely that four clubs would then be able to overhaul them.

Certainly, a win over the Bandits would end any hopes the Shielfield Park side have of finishing ahead of Panthers, who have already guaranteed they cannot be caught by Ipswich.

The other realistic contenders are Workington, Lakeside, Edinburgh and Glasgow, and several of those clubs meet each other over the coming days.

For Panthers, who last raced at home back on August 5 when they were held to a draw by Ipswich, it’s a case of ‘one in, one out’ on the team front.

Danish star Ulrich Ostergaard returns after missing nearly two months with rib damage, but No.1 Scott Nicholls is ruled out with a broken ankle after crashing at Glasgow on Tuesday.

Nicholls had a successful operation the following day and was then allowed to return home, but his likely period of inactivity is currently unclear.

In his absence on Sunday, Panthers have booked Redcar’s Thomas Jorgensen to guest at No.1, whilst Emil Grondal and skipper Simon Lambert swap places with new averages for September in force.

Berwick have been on the fringes of the play-off race for the majority of the season thanks to impressive home form, and the early completion of their Shielfield Park schedule has kept them consistently in the top six.

They do need away wins to break back into the top four, and a solid Bandits side forced a draw at Scunthorpe recently – and were also 20-16 up at Ipswich on Thursday before the meeting was abandoned.

With the re-arrangement at Foxhall and a trip to Edinburgh to complete their away schedule, the Bandits will need at least two wins to stage a dramatic run into the play-offs.

They are led as captain by experienced Australian Kevin Doolan, and include former Peterborough riders David Howe and Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen in their top five – NBJ after a spectacular spell at reserve recently.

Panthers co-promoter Ged Rathbone said: “It’s an absolutely vital meeting for us. We haven’t had a meeting at home for five weeks, and the riders need to be ready to go for this one.

“We’ve asked all of them to make absolutely sure that all their preparation is done properly. We’re coming to the run-in now so they’re not going to have much time to get engines sent off and serviced and so on, and it’s crucial that we don’t allow our standards to slip.

“We want everyone to enjoy it, that’s very important, but we’re asking the riders to go that one step further because we’ve worked so hard to achieve things this season.

“None of us want it to slip away at this point, so we want the riders prepared mentally and mechanically for the meetings to come, and at the end of the day extra meetings are good news for them and the club.

“Our intention of being in speedway is to challenge to win trophies, and to be there or thereabouts. You need some luck as well to achieve it, there are never any guarantees, but once you’re in there anything can happen, and that’s where we intend to be.”

Panthers will also be staging their annual collection for the Speedway Riders’ Benevolent Fund, held over from the home match against Ipswich due to delays at the start of that meeting.

Riders will be mingling with the crowd during the interval and supporters are asked to give as generously as possible.

The main event is followed by a Northern Junior League clash between the Motive Thundercats and the Berwick Bandits Academy.

PETERBOROUGH: Thomas Jorgensen, Emil Grondal, Bradley Wilson-Dean, Michael Palm Toft, Ulrich Ostergaard, Simon Lambert, Tom Bacon.
BERWICK: Aaron Summers, Kevin Doolan, Jye Etheridge, David Howe, Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen, Dany Gappmaier, Theo Pijper.

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