Good re­sults but an­other revamp is still on the cards

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Sport - By Mark Plum­mer SPEED­WAY COR­RE­SPON­DENT

Pan­thers pro­moter Ged Rath­bone faces a stick or twist dilemma in the club’s pur­suit of Premier League hon­ours. Thecityteam­climbed­back­into third place in the stand­ings af­ter col­lect­ing four points in as many days on the road last week.

They ended fel­low top-six hope­fuls Sh­effield’s un­beaten home league record with a 48-45suc­cess at Owler­ton­last Thurs­day and then col­lected an­other point when go­ing down 47-43 in a long-dis­tance trip to Work­ing­ton last Sun­day.

Rath­bone is still con­sid­er­ing pos­si­ble ways of strength­eningateam­not­ful­ly­firingon all cylin­ders, but he doesn’t have long to make a de­ci­sion with a sign­ing dead­line of Au­gust 15 looming large.

Rath­bone ad­mit­ted: “Not many peo­ple would have ex­pected us to pick up four points from two very tough away meet­ings.

“They were two pleas­ing re­sults and it was great to see the lads dig in and­bat­tleinthe way they did.

“Bu­tit is clear to see west­ill have a cou­ple of prob­lems in the team and the ques­tion now is whether we try to per­se­vere with riders who have been­strug­glin­goflate, orgam­ble on mak­ing team changes.

“We’reina­good­po­si­tionin the ta­ble, but we­knowwest­ill have work to do to nail down that spot in the top six.

“We also have to con­sider whether or not we are strong enough cur­rently to make a chal­lenge for the ti­tle

“What­ever we set­tle on, it has to bethe cor­rect de­ci­sion. There is no­turn­ing back af­ter the sign­ing dead­line.”

Rath­bone re­fused to iden­tify any cur­rent riders po­ten­tially un­der­threat if Pan­thers do opt to revamp their team again.

The club will have to make a de­ci­sion on the fu­ture of re­serve racer Ash­ley Mor­ris, whose short-term stint is due to ex­pire early next week.

Mor­ris has im­pressed by scor­ing 30points in five meet­ings since be­ing drafted in for Si­mon Lam­bert, who is now out for the rest of the sea­son.

Tom Perry has found the go­ing tough since ris­ing into the main body of the team fol­low­ing a lay-off of more than a month with a col­lar­bone in­jury.

But Perry is still classed as the club’s manda­tory Bri­tish rider af­ter­start­ing the sea­son in the num­ber seven berth.

Czech prospect Zdenek Hol­ub­hasn’tmade­theim­pact ex­pected of him at re­serve while Dan­ish pair Niko­laj BuskJakob­se­nandEmilGron­dal have strug­gled at times.

How­ever, both­ofthoserid­ers have sug­gested their form is im­prov­ing with per­for­mances of late.

Busk Jakob­sen de­liv­ered twodou­ble-fig­ure scores dur­ing July while Gron­dal de­liv­ered im­pres­sive heat 14 wins in the club’s two most re­cent meet­ings. Pan­thers pro­ducedarous­ing late show to swoop for a wel­come win.

Owler­ton Sta­dium, the home of Sh­effield, has been one of the club’s hap­pier hunt­ing grounds since re­turn­ing to the Premier League.

And that proved to be the case again last Thurs­day night when a streak of five suc­ces­sive 4-2s clinched a come­back tri­umph against a weak­ened set of hosts.

Pan­thers had ear­lier con­ceded back-to-back 5-1s dur­ing a mis­er­able start be­fore star­ing at a 10-point deficit af­ter just six races fol­low­ing a hat-trick of 4-2s from the hosts.

But a suc­cess­ful tac­ti­cal ride from Ul­rich Oster­gaard in heat seven laid the foun­da­tions for a pleas­ing re­cov­ery against a Tigers team who had lost num­ber one Si­mon Stead af­ter just one ride.

Stead­tookno­fur­ther­part af­ter hit­ting the deck on the open­ing bend of heat three and that left Sh­effield with­out their top tworid­ers as Ja- son Gar­rity was al­ready out in­jured.

Pan­thers con­tin­ued to eat into their ar­rears be­fore hit­ting the front for the first time when Emil Gron­dal in­spired a 4-2 in the penul­ti­mate race.

And num­ber one Craig Cook, whowon­three­ofthe­fi­nal five in­stal­ments, did like­wise in a last-heat de­cider to sew up a valu­able vic­tory.

As­sis­tant team boss Carl John­son said: “All seven men scored im­por­tant points to help us pick up an im­por­tant win.

“We bat­tled hard to stay i n con­tention and Sh­effield’s loss of Stead ob­vi­ously worked in our favour.

“It’s never nice to see arid­er­have­top­ull­outin­jured, but we had to en­sure we took ad­van­tage.”

Niko­laj Busk Jakob­sen del­liv­ered two dou­ble-fig­ure scores in July.

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