SIMON Stead is looking to use the Elite League play-offs as a fresh start as he bids to put a difficult season behind him.

The Yorkshireman has slipped from being a heat leader to the reserve positions in the Swindon team over the last six months, and came close to losing his place in the Robins line-up little over a month ago.

But after making changes to his equipment and staff Stead has made improvements in recent weeks, and is looking to make an impact as the Robins travel to Birmingham.

“It has been a tough year, but the play-offs are a different story,” he said.

“We start from scratch and it can be a bit of a new start, and we will go into the meetings looking to score plenty of points and finish the season on a high.

“I am feeling a lot better and I feel a lot more comfortable after making a lot of changes, and we used the last meeting at Birmingham as a bit of a practice session where we tried some different things and I felt that by my last ride we had made some good strides.

“I have only ridden at Birmingham twice before, so it was good to get some laps in before Monday.

“We have had some laps and some paid practice, so there will be no excuse when Monday comes around.”

The Robins left the second city on Wednesday night with a 46-44 victory in their final regular-season meeting despite missing number one Hans Andersen, but Stead is expecting a tougher test this time around.

“We are more than happy to be coming back to Birmingham for the semi but I am expecting us to go up against a completely different Birmingham side than the one we beat on Wednesday,” he said.

“They will be fully revved up and ready to go, and it will be a really tough match so we need to forget about our last result there because it is done and finished.

“The way the team is structured means we have strength throughout, and we don’t have any weak links or any weak heats when we go into meetings, so we will go in full of confidence like we always do.”