By Henry Chard
When and where
East of England Arena & Events Centre: Tuesday 24th April, 8.00pm
Peterborough: 1. Scott Nicholls 9.73 2. Emil Grondal 5.04 3. Nike Lunna 5.90 4. Michael Palm Toft 6.77 TBC 5. Ulrich Ostergaard 7.12 6. Tom Bacon 2.67 7. Simon Lambert 4.56 ©. Team Manager: Carl Johnson
Ipswich: 1. Danny King 8.87 © 2. Michael Härtel 5.20 3. Rory Schlein 8.58 4. Cameron Heeps 6.93 5. Ty Proctor (g) 7.49 6. Connor Mountain 3.33 7. Danyon Hume 2.00. Team Manager: Ritchie Hawkins
Championship Shield table
The ‘Tru Plant’ Witches travel to local rivals Peterborough on Tuesday for a Championship Shield fixture. The original fixture was one of many all over the country that was postponed over Easter due to the awful weather. The Witches hopes of qualification from the group were shattered on Saturday night after they were defeated 44-45 at Foxhall by Lakeside. The Witches have lost their opening three meetings of the season and despite not having anything to ride for on Tuesday, will be keen to get a positive result to kick-start their season ahead of the Championship league campaign. Nico Covatti will be missing after suffering damage to his ribs in his heat 13 crash on Saturday with Ty Proctor guesting in his place.
The Panthers go into Tuesday’s meeting knowing that a win could see them qualify from the group as one of the best runners-up. Former Witch Scott Nicholls spearheads a new look side in 2018 despite winning the Championship Fours and Knockout Cup in 2017. Michael Palm Toft is a doubt for Tuesday’s meeting with a sprained ankle following a crash at Swindon whilst in action for his Premiership side Leicester. Emil Grondal has started the season in encouraging fashion, having had spells previously with the Panthers in 2015 and 2016.
One to watch
Ulrich Ostergaard is in his fifth consecutive season with the club and won the Elite League with the Panthers in 2006. The Dane has started 2018 well and was key in his side’s win at Foxhall scoring 10+1. The 37-year-old is an experienced rider and the home side will need him to perform against the Witches heat leaders if the Panthers are to get the result they desire.
From the boss…
‘Tru Plant’ Witches Team Manager Ritchie Hawkins previews Tuesday’s meeting.
“Peterborough know that a win against us would probably put them through as the best second place, so they will be determined to win the meeting. We need to get our first win on the board and show our fans what this team is all about.
“It is almost the same team that started last year but never rode together. However, there are three changes to the team that did so well and ended the season with Nico and Danyon coming back. People need to up their game but when you look at the side and the injuries from last year with riders coming back in and the young reserves, we are a team built to build into the season.
“Three meetings in five or six days is what we want and need and by the end of that the boys need to be firing.”
It has been a difficult start to 2018 for the Witches as they have suffered defeat in all three meetings so far this season after two home defeats and one on the road. The hosts have started the season in solid fashion, starting their Championship Shield group with a win over Lakeside before beating the Witches at Foxhall. Defeat at the Arena Essex Raceway followed before they got their Championship league season underway with a home win over Redcar.
What happened last time?
The last time these two sides met in Cambridgeshire was in last season’s Knockout Cup final first leg. After Rory Schein was withdrawn following a crash in his first ride, the five-man Witches side battled back to lose by just four points in a 47-43 defeat. Danny King top scored with 13 with Cameron Heeps impressing with 12.
The Panthers are sponsored by T. Balfe Construction and race in red, black and white kevlars. They race at the East of England Arena & Events Centre on Sunday and Friday evenings on the fast 336 metre track where Krzysztof Kasprzak holds the track record of 58.4 seconds set in September 2010. An adult ticket costs £16, Concessions (Over 65s and students) £13, Juniors (aged 10 to 16) £5, Children (under 10s) Free. A programme costs £3. For more details and how to find them visit their website here: http://www.peterboroughpanthers.co