KO CUP REPORT: Panthers blown away by rampant Rebels

Zdenek Holub escaped criticism for Panthers' dismal showing in Somerset.
Zdenek Holub escaped criticism for Panthers' dismal showing in Somerset.

Peterborough Panthers were blown away last night (June 28) - literally.

The city team saw their six-meeting winning streak come to a sudden halt when slumping to their heaviest defeat of the season so far.

Panthers skipper Ulrich Ostergaard top scored in Somerset.

Panthers skipper Ulrich Ostergaard top scored in Somerset.

Panthers were thumped 62-28 at Somerset Rebels in the first leg of their Premier League KO Cup quarter-final tie at the wind-ravaged Oaktree Arena.

One of their unhappiest hunting grounds provided even more misery than usual as Panthers managed only one race win (that came from number one Craig Cook in the opener) and not a single heat advantage.

It was a pitiful performance that drew a predictably angry reaction from promoter Ged Rathbone as well as ensuring an almost certain exit from the competition with the second leg to follow at the East of England Showground on Sunday (July 3).

Rathbone blasted: “We were absolute hammered and I’m just sorry for any supporters who were present to see it.

It was a tough night in Somerset for Panthers' rider Tom Perry.

It was a tough night in Somerset for Panthers' rider Tom Perry.

“I had a five-hour journey down to the meeting myself and another five-hour journey home, getting in at 3am. I don’t give up that much time to be treated to a performance like the one we produced last night.

“The wind was absolutely horrendous and we did speak to the referee several times to ask him to consider the safety of the riders, but he felt it was okay for the meeting to continue.

“Riders were getting blown off line and a fence outside the track was blown down because it was so strong, but we can’t use that as an excuse. It was the same for both teams.

“Losing a speedway meeting by this sort of margin should never happen. It is completely unacceptable and it is hugely costly to the club.

“It is another chance of winning silverware virtually gone as we will need a miracle to turn this tie around.”

Captain Ulrich Ostergaard had he dubious honour of being the Panthers top-scorer with nine points.

He collected four second places and one third while being the only visiting rider to collect points in all of his races.

Cook had a night to forget as he only managed to complete two of his four races. He was excluded following a crash in heat five and also retired towards the end of heat 13 to finish with five points.

Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen also struggled whereas Tom Perry endured a tough return to Panthers action when making his first appearance in the main body of the team. He did at least walk away unscathed following a spill in heat eight.

Emil Grondal failed to score in his final meeting before dropping to reserve where he will replace Simon Lambert, whose spectacular run of scoring came to an end last night.

One man who did perform well was recent reserve capture Zdenek Holub. The Czech talent racked up paid five in his first-ever visit to Somerset.

Rathbone added: “Zdenek is the only rider who can come away with any sort of credit in all honesty. He put himself about and was always in the thick of the action despite it being the first time he has ever seen the Somerset track.”

The return clash is at 5pm on Sunday at Alwalton.

SCORES

SOMERSET: Jake Allen 14+1, Josh Grajczonek 14, Paul Starke 11+2, Rohan

Tungate 10+2, Charles Wright 9+1, Bradley Wilson-Dean 4+2, Zach

Wajtknecht 0.

PANTHERS: Ulrich Ostergaard 9, Craig Cook 5, Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen 5,

Zdenek Holub 4+1, Simon Lambert 3+2, Tom Perry 2+1, Emil Grondal 0