Panthers up for the KO Cup

PETERBOROUGH will be looking to end their season with some silverware as they prepare to take on Poole in the semi-finals of the Knockout Cup over the next couple of days.

PETERBOROUGH will be looking to end their season with some silverware as they prepare to take on Poole in the semi-finals of the Knockout Cup over the next couple of days.

The Readypower Panthers will head to Dorset on Wednesday evening for the first leg of the tie with the decisive second leg back at the Showground 24-hours later (Thursday, 7.30pm).

The Pirates, though, will be fired-up and looking to bounce-back after Monday’s heart-breaking Elite League Grand Final aggregate loss against Swindon.

But they will have to do it without their top man Darcy Ward who was hospitalised over the weekend following an off-track incident on Friday night. In comes Niels-Kristian Iversen as a guest replacement with the ex-Panther in the form of his life this year.

Pirates will have newly crowned World Champion Chris Holder in their side, but they are missing Piotr Pawlicki to a season-ending shoulder injury. Rider-replacement will be used to cover for the Pole.

Peterborough have more than enough injuries of their own to be concerned with but club bosses have worked tirelessly to track a competitive team.

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Scott Nicholls will step in as Linus Sundstrom’s replacement on Wednesday with former fans favourite Hans Andersen taking over the number 1 jacket for Thursday’s return at the Showground.

Mads Korneliussen guests in place of Ryan Sullivan in Dorset – whilst rider-replacement is operated for Krzysztof Buczkowski – with the positions reversed for Thursday (Korneliussen guests for Buczkowski and rider-replacement for Sullivan).

Panthers other injured rider Tomas H. Jonasson is replaced by Workington man Rene Bach. The Dane is partnered at reserve by squad man Jason Bunyan, with Richard Lawson getting the nod for Thursday’s return fixture.

Co-team boss Jan Staechmann said: “It has certainly been some task trying to get this meeting on, let alone fielding a team for it.

“Then again, I have never known a season like it, with respect to the amount of rain-offs we have had, and the run of injuries is just never ending.

“Krzysztof (Buczkowski) had crashed and hurt his back in Poland, and check-ups at the end of the week revealed that he had in fact also fractured some fingers, and that has curtailed his season.

“Similar story with Ryan (Sullivan), who bravely rode in the Polish play-offs despite his fractured hand and wrist, and he has also had to throw in the towel for the remainder of the season.

“Our thanks go to the respective clubs of our guest riders, and to the riders, for coming to our rescue.

“It will be a tough test against the Pirates, but this competition is slightly different in so much as the result is decided on aggregate points over the two legs, and we will know on Thursday what we will have to achieve in order to progress to the Final against Coventry.

“I firmly believe that with a bit of luck, and certainly no more bad luck, we have a good chance.”

The Knockout Cup is being run this season in partnership with the Action for Children charity and also has an innovative new format. When a team is eight-points down, they can nominate one rider for a match race. If that rider wins the heat it will hand his team a 3-0 heat win but if the winning rider is from the team in front no points are scored.

If the Panthers are victorious over the two legs then they will face Coventry in the Final. They will have little time to reflect back on the semi-final though as the first leg will take place this Friday at the Midland side’s Brandon Stadium (Friday, October 26), with the second leg date to be confirmed.

TEAMS (Wednesday @ Poole)

POOLE: Niels Kristian Iversen, Piotr Pawlicki R/R, Chris Holder, Ricky Kling, Krzysztof Kasprzak, Sam Masters, Kyle Howarth.

PETERBOROUGH: Scott Nicholls, Norbert Kosciuch, Mads Korneliussen, Krzysztof Buczkowski R/R, Michael Jepsen Jensen, Jason Bunyan, Rene Bach.

(Thursday @ Peterborough)

PETERBOROUGH: Hans Andersen, Norbert Kosciuch, Mads Korneliussen, Ryan Sullivan R/R, Michael Jepsen Jensen, Richard Lawson, Rene Bach.

POOLE: Niels Kristian Iversen, Piotr Pawlicki R/R, Chris Holder, Ricky Kling, Krzysztof Kasprzak, Sam Masters, Kyle Howarth.

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