Panthers report: Depleted side almost catch the Comets

Ulrich Ostergaard was outstanding for Panthers at Workington.

Ulrich Ostergaard was outstanding for Panthers at Workington.

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Promoter Ged Rathbone is adamant Peterborough Panthers would have wrecked a 100 per cent record last night (July 25) . . . if only they had been able to track a full team.

Unfortunately that has become something of a rare luxury during a 2015 campaign plagued by injuries and a city side minus three regular riders had to settle for the collection of a valuable Premier League point from a 49-44 defeat rather than claim success at Workington.

It was still a decent return against the Comets – who were winning a sixth successive meeting on their own Derwent Park shale - in the absence of the influential Lambert namesakes and Lewis Blackbird.

Skipper Ulrich Ostergaard and star guest Josh Grajczonek (both former Workington riders) inspired Panthers with fine double-figure hauls and ensured they pocketed a point by packing the minor places in the final race.

Their efforts also lifted the city side back into second place in the standings ahead of today’s (July 26, 3pm) opponents Glasgow by virtue of a superior points difference.

Club chief Rathbone said: “Workington have a very strong team and their record on their own track speaks for itself.

“There is no doubt in my mind that we could have taken their 100 per cent home record with a full team, but we will never know if that will have been the case.

“In the circumstances a point is not a bad result and it edges us that little bit closer to a play-off spot which remains the target.”

Victories for Ostergaard and reserve Rafal Konopka in the opening two races kept Panthers level, but they were always behind from then on.

They fell to a maximum of 10 points adrift but responded immediately by deploying Grajczonek on a successful double-points mission in heat eight.

The 7-2 gained in that race halved their arrears and they later clawed their way back to within three points of the hosts when Ostergaard inspired a 4-2 in heat 13.

A success from former Panthers rider Kenneth Hansen in the penultimate race to earn a 4-2 clinched victory for Workington and the same Comets man also took the chequered flag in the finale to end Ostergaard’s hopes of a maximum after he had won all four of his previous outings.

The Panthers skipper wasn’t far behind in second though and partner Grajczonek nipped into third to secure their consolation point after home rider Ricky Wells encountered bike trouble.

Rathbone added: “Ulrich was outstanding and his performance was even more impressive considering he was on his spare bike.

“He had an engine problem with his number one machine before the meeting and had to switch, but no-one got within a quarter-of-a-lap of him until Hansen beat him in heat 15.”

Ostergaard finished on 14 points while the borrowed Grajczonek was paid for the same tally. They didn’t get a lot of support though with Emil Grondal and Michael Palm Toft the next best scorers with half-a-dozen apiece.

That certainly wasn’t a disgrace in the case of World Under 21 finalist Grondal, who was competing in a first away meeting in British speedway. After taking a couple of rides to suss out the track, he added a hat-trick of second places.

Panthers were unable to replace the points of Simon Lambert at reserve though with his replacement, Ashley Morris, managing just two. The rider replacement facility to cover Blackbird’s absence also contributed only four points.

Panthers call in Matej Kus of Redcar to guest for Blackbird at Glasgow today and operate rider replacement for Robert Lambert which means main man Ostergaard can take an extra ride.

Matt Wethers, who rode against the club for Workington last night, now rides for them in place of Simon Lambert today.

SATURDAY SCORES

WORKINGTON: Kenneth Hansen 12+1, Ricky Wells 9, Kyle Howarth 8, Rene Bach 7, Matt Williamson 5+1, Rusty Harrison 4+2, Matt Wethers 4+1.

PANTHERS: Ulrich Ostergaard 14, Josh Grajczonek (guest) 11+3, Emil Grondal 6, Michael Palm Toft 6, Rafal Konopka 5, Ashley Morris (guest) 2+1, Rider replacement for Lewis Blackbird.

SUNDAY TEAMS

GLASGOW: Nick Morris, James Sarjeant, Aaron Summers, Rider replacement for David Howe, Richard Lawson, Victor Palovaara, Adam Roynon (guest).

PANTHERS: Ulrich Ostergaard, Rider replacement for Robert Lambert, Matej Kus (guest), Emil Grondal, Michael Palm Toft, Matt Wethers (guest), Rafal Konopka.