PIRATES boss Matt Ford is confident Paul Starke will leave behind his recent troubles when he drops to reserve for the SGB Premiership play-off semi-final.

An Elite League title winner with Poole in 2015, the Hereford-born charger managed just 13 paid 15 points in four meetings following his elevation to the main body of the team 11 days ago.

Across the same time period, Timo Lahti's shift to reserve yielded a remarkable 65 paid 69, although he rode in one more meeting than Starke, at home to King's Lynn.

The pair will head in opposite directions for Monday's play-off fixture against Swindon, Lahti moving into the top five and Starke heading for the bottom two.

And Ford feels the latter can rediscover his best form for the mouthwatering fixture at Wimborne Road (7.30pm).

He told the Daily Echo: "Of course we would have preferred it if Timo had remained at reserve but that's the nature of the beast.

"He racked up paid 69 points in five matches, effectively 14 points a meeting, and that makes a huge difference.

"I have spoken to Paul and he knows the pressure now falls on him a bit.

"He has had a few unnecessary breakdowns of late but hasn't necessarily had time to put things right and go through his bikes with a fine-tooth comb.

"But that has now been done and he has been able to find a few niggling issues, so I hope on Monday we will have the Starkey we know is capable of turning out for the Pirates."

Reflecting more generally on the prospect of facing the Robins, Ford added: "I don't need a lot of questions answered with the team I have. I think they have performed admirably in the past month.

"We've got there, let's do the most we can to take our opportunity."