Peterborough Panthers were left with a mixture of relief and delight after their 2015 season finally received lift-off yesterday (April 6).
The city club powered to two Easter Monday victories to claw their way back into contention for qualification from the Southern Group of the Premier League Cup competition.
A 47-43 afternoon success at Rye House, which came complete with a fantastic finish, was followed up by a dominant 56-37 evening drubbing of highly-rated Ipswich at the East of England Showground.
In the process they avenged previous defeats at the hands of both sets of East Anglian rivals.
“We certainly haven’t had it easy in the opening weeks of the season,” said team boss Carl Johnson.
“We’ve lost two riders to bad injuries and had so many things go against us at Ipswich on Good Friday it was untrue.
“But we have really showed what we are about and a day like this will do wonders for the mood of the riders and the supporters.
“It was great to get the monkey off our back with a really pleasing success on the road at Rye House and the boys backed it up superbly at the Showground.
“The results don’t come as any surprise to me as I know how good a team we have assembled. The challenge now is continue winning meetings.”
Panthers trailed by four points with two races remaining in their afternoon fixture at Rye House.
But back-to-back 5-1s clinched a dramatic success with Simon Lambert and Lewis Blackbird doing the honours in the penultimate instalment before emerging star Michael Palm Toft and teen ace Robert Lambert shone in the finale.
And Panthers picked up from where they had left off with a sizzling return to the Showground.
They took command against Ipswich with a hat-trick of 5-1s in the opening three races to give the Witches a taste of their own medicine. They had done likewise at Foxhall on Good Friday.
Palm Toft was within 0.2 seconds of the Premier League track record when winning the opener and that set the tone for a fine display.
In all Panthers claimed six 5-1s in the first nine races and they had victory sewn up by the time of the interval after heat 10.
The only man to offer any real fight was Ipswich number one Danny King who contributed almost half of his team’s points.
The Great Britain international – and former Panthers rider – roared to a 16-point haul boosted by a fifth-heat tactical ride.
His sole defeat came in the opener when Palm Toft went tapes to flag and guest Richard Lawson zoomed down his inside for second.
The only real cause for concern is the form of reserve Ollie Greenwood who was the club’s lowest scorer in both meetings yesterday. He did contribute to two heat two 5-1s, but looked short of speed in other races.
Panthers return to action with two meetings in three days against Plymouth.
They make the long journey to the St Boniface Arena on Friday (April 10, 7.15pm) ahead of a Sunday (April 12) return clash at the Showground (3pm).
vs Rye House
RYE HOUSE 43: Eddie Kennett 12, Anders Mellgren 12, Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen 6, Nico Covatti 4+3, Robin Aspegren 4, Steve Boxall 4, Luke Bowen 1.
PANTHERS 47: Michael Palm-Toft 12+1, Robert Lambert 10+1, Ulrich Ostergaard 7, Simon Lambert 6, Richard Lawson (guest) 5+2, Lewis Blackbird 5+1, Ollie Greenwood 2+1.
PANTHERS 56: Robert Lambert 13, Richard Lawson 10+1, Ulrich Ostergaard 9+1, Michael Palm Toft 9+1, Lewis Blackbird 7+3, Simon Lambert 6+1, Ollie Greenwood 2+1.
IPSWICH 37: Danny King 16, Cameron Heeps 7, Rohan Tungate 5, Gino Manzares 4+1, Nico Covatti 4+1, Stefan Nielsen 1, Ritchie Hawkins 0.
LEAGUE CUP STANDINGS
Rye House 4 10
Somerset 4 7
Panthers 5 6
Ipswich 3 4
Plymouth 2 3