PIRATES chief Matt Ford is desperate to see his barely recognisable team silence the doubters – by defying the odds to retain the Knockout Cup.
Depleted Pirates go into the second leg of their final clash against Coventry tonight defending a 52-38 lead from Friday’s Brandon showdown.
A similarly makeshift line-up will bid to salvage some silverware from a troubled end to the season when the tapes go up at Wimborne Road (7.30pm).
Ludvig Lindgren is the only rider remaining from Pirates’ initial 2012 team – with no fewer than three guests bolstering the Dorset club’s ranks.
Having initially spoken to Hans Andersen, Poole have opted to keep faith with Rory Schlein as the replacement for Ward, with in-form Niels-Kristian also selected alongside Morten Risager.
Ford is urging new-look Poole to upset the odds and take their chance to triumph.
The Pirates promoter told the club website: “There have been many of our critics who have claimed that Pirates are a two-man team and that, without Chris Holder and Darcy Ward, we could not function.
“I hoped I would not be in this position but, to those people who have spoken out, I would like to remind them of their sarcastic digs as we line up in the final, having reached this stage with neither Chris nor Darcy registering a point in the second leg at Peterborough last Thursday.
“At around 8.10pm on Thursday night, there were so many towels being thrown in from the ‘Internet terraces’ but, dramatically, the Pirates refused to be defeated, held on to an aggregate semi-final triumph and then stormed to a hugely impressive away win at Coventry.
“Of course, we owe huge thanks to Niels-Kristian Iversen and Rory Schlein for stepping in like they did and the performance of Krzysztof Kasprzak should not be overlooked.
“But we saw at Peterborough and Coventry the absolute significance of how important the back-up riders can be and when you have points coming from all quarters of the side then the seemingly impossible can become a reality.”
For the final match of the campaign, Pirates are hoping to attract a bumper crowd as they aim to forget the agony of their Elite League grand final defeat. The club is offering free admission for children.
Poole: Rory Schlein (guest), Niels-Kristian Iversen (guest), Krzysztof Kasprzak, Rider Replacement for Piotr Pawlicki, Morten Risager (guest), Ludvig Lindgren, Kyle Howarth.
Coventry: Chris Harris, Scott Nicholls, Kenni Larsen, Edward Kennett, Aaron Summers, Richard Hall, Michal Szczepaniak.