The Lakeside Hammers, in proud association with The Royal Navy, have a vital period of 72 hours in front of them starting tonight (Friday) when they are at home to the Swindon Robins in their penultimate Sky Sports Elite League match of the season. Then, on Monday 6th September, they face the Peterborough Panthers in the final League match of the campaign.
The results from these two crucial matches will go a long way in calculating whether the Essex based Club will reach the end of season Play Offs, which ultimately decide the Sky Sports Elite League Championship. They need to finish in the top four in the table to guarantee their place in these Play Offs.
Going into tonight’s match against Swindon the Hammers are in third place in the table behind Poole and Wolverhampton, who cannot be caught for the top two places. However, Peterborough, who visit the Arena-Essex Raceway on Monday, are only two points adrift of the Hammers in fourth place.
The Coventry Bees could still make a late run up the table to secure one of the two remaining Play Off places before the cut off date so it appears to be a fight between the Hammers, Peterborough and Coventry with the top two out of these three clubs progressing alongside Poole and Wolverhampton although mathematically it is possible that either Belle Vue or Swindon could overtake Peterborough, but not the Hammers, although that would require them to win all of their remaining matches with Peterborough losing all of their matches.
A large crowd is expected tonight at the Arena-Essex Raceway with the local fans expected to get fully behind the Hammers team. However, they will all be listening out for the result of the other Elite League match this evening, which sees Peterborough take on Coventry at the East of England Showground.
The Hammers go into both of these vital meetings with their official No.8, Chris Neath, covering for the injured Paul Hurry. The remaining six members of the team remain unchanged.
Swindon tonight will be led by Australian Leigh Adams who will be making his final appearance at the Arena-Essex Raceway following his announcement that he is going to retire from racing in this Country at the end of this season. Adams is a former Hammers rider having ridden for the Club between 1993 and 1995.
Joining him in the Robins team will be fellow Australian Justin Sedgmen, Danes Mads Korneliussen and Morten Risager, British World Cup rider Simon Stead and Poles Grzegorz Zengota and Maciej Janowski with the latter due to make his first appearance around the Arena-Essex Raceway having recently joined the Wiltshire club.
On Monday, 6th September, the Peterborough Panthers have named in their side Danish Grand Prix rider Kenneth Bjerre along with his fellow countryman Niels Kristian Iversen, Australians Troy Batchelor and Rory Schlein, Poles Krzysztof Buczkowski and Norbert Kosciuch plus Mathieu Tresarrieu from France.
The action gets underway at the Arena-Essex Raceway against Swindon this evening at 8pm with Monday’s match against Peterborough due to start 30 minutes earlier at 7.30pm. Both are vital matches for the Hammers so fans are asked to turn up as early as they can to avoid possible longer than usual queues at the pay booths.