MATCH REPORT: Team manager apologises for a ‘shambolic performance’

Craig Cook scored 14 points.

Craig Cook scored 14 points.

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Peterborough Panthers were described as a shambles by their own team manager last night (August 21).

Peterborough Panthers were described as a shambles by their own team manager last night.

The city side slumped to a 59-34 drubbing at play-off rivals Newcastle in a crucial Premier League fixture.

Panthers could only collect one heat advantage on a torrid night at Brough Park . . . and even that arrived when they deployed number one Craig Cook on a tactical ride.

Cook won three races in all while Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen and Ashley Morris also claimed one success apiece, but that was nowhere near enough to test a Newcastle side who still boast a 100 per cent home record.

And Panthers boss Carl Johnson was quick to apologise to the away fans who made the trek up the A1 to witness a display which seriously dented the club’s hopes of nailing down a top-six spot.

They’re now down to fifth in the standings and only four points clear of the Ipswich side who sit immediately outside the play-off zone.

Johnson said: “I feel very sorry for the supporters who travelled a long way to watch such a shambolic performance.

“Only two riders come out of it with any sort of credit. Craig delivered the sort of high-scoring performance we expect of him and Ashley again out-performed his average down at reserve.

“But we were off the pace collectively and beaten by far the better side.

“Newcastle has always been a very tough track to ride and we don’t have a lot of experience there as a team.

“A couple of the boys were there for the first time last night, and two others had only previously ridden it once.

“But they didn’t get to grips with it in the way professional sportsmen should. There was no improvement as the night went on.

“In fact there wasn’t anywhere near enough effort or heart shown by the majority of the riders and we can’t accept that.”

Cook led the way for Panthers on 14 points despite suffering a retirement in the finale. Busk Jakobsen and Morris both added seven points to the club’s tally.

Reserve Zdenek Holub was unfortunate not to join the list of visiting race-winners after losing a steel shoe when out in front in a a heat four re-run before being passed by home rider Steve Worrall.

Holub (3+1) faded in his final two rides after a bright start while skipper Ulrich Ostergaard suffered a crash and a tapes exclusion during a miserable night in which he picked up only two points.

Tom Perry could only manage a single point in his final ride, but that was better than the blank return of fellow second-string Emil Grondal.

Panthers must quickly bounce back to form as they entertain Newcastle in a return clash at the East of England Showground on Friday (August 26, 7.30pm).

“We’ve got to regroup, show some character and respond,” added Johnson. “We’ve got two vital home meetings over the Bank Holiday weekend and we need to win both of them.”

Panthers also entertain strugglers Redcar on Monday, August 29 (7pm).

SCORES

NEWCASTLE: Steve Worrall 12+1, Ludvig Lindgren 11+3, Lewis Rose 11+3, Matej Kus 10+1, Victor Palovaara 9+1, Robert Lambert 4+1, Danny Phillips 2+1

PANTHERS: Craig Cook 14, Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen 7, Ashley Morris 7, Zdenek Holub 3+1, Ulrich Ostergaard 2+1, Tom Perry 1, Emil Grondal 0