Speedway: Potters on twin mission
STOKE Easy Rider Potters have their sights set on National League and Knockout Cup progression this weekend.
The Potters host Mildenhall in the second leg of the Knockout Cup tomorrow (7pm) and follow that up by entertaining Rye House in a vital league meeting on Sunday (3pm).
Stoke trail the Fen Tigers by 16 points in the cup and will need to be at their best against a side that forced a 45-45 league draw last weekend and also won the National League Fours at Loomer Road last month.
"They are a tough nut to crack, but we have nothing to lose," said Potters number four Ben Reade. They ride this place quite well, but this is another meeting and we know exactly what we need to do to go through."
Mildenhall team manager, former Fen Tigers rider Rob Henry, added: "I had hoped for a bigger lead, but we will approach the meeting with our usual winning mentality.
"We are in a position where we don't have to chase every point and maybe make mistakes.
"We rate Stoke, but we also want to get through to the final and we know what we have to do."
The Fen Tigers will be without the injured Cameron Heeps and have offered Stoke asset Gareth Isherwood a short-term contract as cover for the injured Aaron Baseby.
Stoke then turn their attention to league matters... and a place in the top four to secure their play-off spot.
The quartet will be decided by Wednesday at the latest, although the picture could become clearer this weekend.
Scunthorpe, Isle of Wight and Stoke are all locked on 17 points, with the Potters holding the better points difference.
Rye House are out of contention, but they will play a part as they host Scunthorpe tomorrow before travelling to Loomer Road 24 hours later.
Stoke were put in the position of running the final home league meeting on Sunday because the cut-off date has been extended to September 19 – from September 16 – which gives Isle of Wight a chance of going through.
"Reaching the play-offs seemed more clear-cut a few weeks ago, but that's all changed and we have to make our last home meeting count," said Potters skipper Tony Atkin.
"We should be capable of beating Rye House, but we have to prepare thoroughly and hope that a bit of luck comes our way."
Rye House are hoping that National League Riders' Champion Jason Garrity is fit enough to take his place at number one.
Garrity has been out with hand and nerve damage for a while, but was expected to practice this week.
The visitors also include Ben Morley, former Potter James Sarjeant and Shane Hazelden. Connor Coles, the son of former Potter Michael Coles, gets a chance at reserve.
Stoke: A Birks, R Andrews, T Atkin, B Reade, J Cockle, L Rumsey, L Carr.
Mildenhall: C Heeps (r/r), J Jacobs, S Nielsen, D Halsey, L Blackbird, R Terry-Daly, G Isherwood.
Rye House: J Garrity, L Chessell, B Morley, S Hazelden, J Sarjeant, D Verge, C Coles.