Panthers back on top after three straight wins

Lewis Blackbird was in fine form for Panthers in Plymouth.
Lewis Blackbird was in fine form for Panthers in Plymouth.

Peterborough Panthers team boss Carl Johnson admits the city racers are ‘there to be shot at’ after extending their perfect start to the Premier League season last night (May 1).

Panthers powered to a 52-40 triumph at Plymouth with captain Ulrich Ostergaard, guest number one Ben Barker and second string Lewis Blackbird all piling up double-figures contributions to make sure teen ace Robert Lambert wasn’t missed after pulling out with a sickness bug.

It was a second victory of the season at the St Boniface Arena after an even more emphatic League Cup success in Devon three weeks earlier.

And it was a third successive victory during a sizzling start to the league campaign which took them a point clear at the top of the early-season standings.

Johnson said: “I stressed to the guys that it wouldn’t be a walkover as Plymouth would want to put the League Cup result right.

“We had a difficult start, but we responded very well to get in front and stay there.

“There were some terrific individual performances and I couldn’t have asked for any more from anyone.

“To have already picked up four away wins is a hell of an achievement so early in the season.

“The aim was to build a team capable of getting results at home and on the road – and so far that is happening.

“The challenge now is to make sure we are at our best in every meeting because opposing teams will be that bit more determined to be the first to beat us.”

Panthers suffered an early hitch as guest Barker was on the receiving end of a 5-1 in the opening race, but that proved to be the only time the former Plymouth man tasted defeat as he followed up with three victories before following in captain Ostergaard for a 5-1 in the final race to clinch all four available league points.

Both Panthers reserves hit the deck in the early stages of heat two with Ollie Greenwood ploughing into the fence after losing control and partner Simon Lambert having to take avoiding action.

But Lambert picked himself up to win the re-run before a 5-1 led in by Michael Palm Toft hauled Panthers level.

An Ostergaard-inspired 4-2 in heat four - the first of four victories from the top-scoring skipper - completed the turnaround and Panthers never looked back after hitting the front.

They ruthlessly put Plymouth to the sword by slamming in 5-1s in the re-runs of races in which home riders had been excluded to open up a 10-point cushion.

The excellent Blackbird foiled Jack Holder’s tactical ride attempt in the re-run of heat 12 after a harsh Lambert exclusion and he then clinched victory by also winning the penultimate contest before Ostergaard and Barker delivered the big finish.

Panthers have a nine-day wait until returning to action when Workington visit the East of England Showground on Sunday (May 10, 6.30pm).

SCORES

PLYMOUTH: Kyle Newman 9+2, Sam Simota 9, Ashley Morris 6+1, Jack Holder 6, Morten Risager 5+2, Ryan Fisher 4+1, Ben Morley (guest) 1+1.

PANTHERS: Ulrich Ostergaard 14+1, Ben Barker (guest) 12+1, Lewis Blackbird 11+1, Michael Palm Toft 8+1, Simon Lambert 7+1, Oliver Greenwood 0, Rider replacement for Robert Lambert.