Peterborough Panthers saw their SGB Championship drought come to an end yesterday (June 11) – but their injury curse struck again.
The city racers eased to a 54-38 success against bottom side Berwick at the East of England Arena to collect a first victory for more than a month.
But it came at a cost as reserve Simon Lambert crashed out of heat two with a suspected broken wrist, which is likely to sideline him for several weeks.
Lambert was in the wrong place at the wrong time when wiped out by Berwick man Jye Etheridge leaving the final bend of the third lap.
It was a second tangle in a matter of weeks involving those riders. Both had to withdraw from the reverse fixture at Berwick last month after a crash Lambert escaped from with nothing more than bruising and tissue damage.
But he doesn’t look to have been so lucky on this occasion . . .
“That’s twice Simon has been taken off by Jye and twice he’s come away injured,” said a frustrated Panthers team boss Carl Johnson.
“The paramedics certainly think he has broken his wrist and Simon was pretty sure that’s the case too. It’s an injury he had last season as well.
“We don’t seem to be able to catch a break with injuries and we’ve probably got to prepare for the worst in this case.
“We’ve all got our fingers crossed for Simon because he’s had a rough start to the year after coming back from another bad injury, and we were hopeful that a drop down to reserve would get him going again.
“We’ll wait for some concrete info before looking at our options. We will only have Simon’s average to play with if we do have to make a change.”
But thankfully Jack Holder appears to have emerged relatively unscathed from a high-speed spill in heat 15.
He did not take his place in the re-run of the final race after a first-bend tangle that left him and Berwick number one Nick Morris flying into the fence.
That was a precautionary measure with Holder complaining of pain to his arm and hip, but it is not thought to be anything serious.
“Touch wood Jack looks okay after a scary crash,” added Johnson. “He’s bashed about after a hard knock and he didn’t feel up to riding in the re-run.
“It was a real shame to see his night end like that because he was absolutely fantastic.”
Johnson wasn’t wrong. Holder produced a thrilling display as he reeled off three successive heat wins and dropped only one point to an opponent.
He twice got the better of fellow Aussie Morris in super battles in heats 11 and 13 after earlier roaring from third to first in heat seven when thwarting the tactical-ride mission of Berwick captain Kevin Doolan.
The visitors had to settle for a 5-3 gain in that race, but it proved to be their only advantage on a night when Panthers racked up their biggest win of the season.
Holder was joined in double-figures by new number one Chris Harris, who also provided a hat-trick of heat wins in a 12-point home debut, and skipper Ulrich Ostergaard, who enjoyed a welcome return to form with paid 13.
Paul Starke and Bradley Wilson-Dean both added solid contributions as Panthers’ main body flexed it’s muscle, while Tom Bacon was worthy of more than the 4+1 he managed at reserve when battling through a seven-ride shift following the early exit of Lambert.
Bacon produced a brilliant effort to rocket away from the outside gate to take victory in a second heat which was awarded as a 5-1 after Etheridge ploughed into Lambert.
That was one of three successive advantages to start the meeting as Panthers took an early grip on proceedings and they still led by 10 points after Doolan’s double-points outing.
They were untroubled from then on to register a much-needed victory which moves them to within six points of the play-off spots with four more home league meetings to come this month.
Johnson continued: “It was the sort of meeting that could easily have got away from us after losing a rider so early, but we all dug deep, battled for points and got a pleasing win.”
Panthers’ next outing is in the KO Cup when they host Scunthorpe on Friday (June 16, 7.30pm) before entertaining Sheffield in a league clash on Sunday (June 18, 5pm).
PANTHERS: Chris Harris 12, Ulrich Ostergaard 11+2, Jack Holder 11 (withdrawn), Paul Starke 8+1, Bradley Wilson-Dean 6+1, Tom Bacon 4+1, Simon Lambert 2+1 (withdrawn).
BERWICK: Nick Morris 12, Kevin Doolan 9+1, David Howe 6, Jye Etheridge 5+2, Jake Knight (guest) 3+2, Dany Gappmaier 3+1, Rider replacement for Lewis Bridger. Number eight Stephen Woodhouse did not ride.
1 - Harris (60.0), Morris, Wilson-Dean, Gappmaier (exc). 4-2, 4-2
2 – Bacon (awarded), Lambert, Knight, Etheridge (fell/exc). 5-1, 9-3.
3 - Ostergaard (60.9), Doolan, Starke, Gappmaier. 4-2, 13-5.
4 - re-run Howe (60.8), Holder, Bacon, Knight. 3-3, 16-8.
5 - Morris (61.6), Ostergaard, Starke, Gappmaier. 3-3, 19-11.
6 - Harris (61.5), Wilson-Dean, Etheridge, Howe. 5-1, 24-12.
7 - Holder (62.4), Doolan (t/r), Etheridge, Bacon. 3-5, 27-17.
8 - Wilson-Dean (62.8), Gappmaier, Knight, Bacon. 3-3, 30-20.
9 - Starke (62.6), Ostergaard, Howe, Etheridge. 5-1, 35-21.
10 - Harris (62.7), Howe, Doolan, Wilson-Dean. 3-3, 38-24.
11 - Holder (62.9), Morris, Gappmaier, Bacon. 3-3, 41-27.
12 - re-run Starke (63.9), Doolan, Etheridge, Bacon (fell/exc). 3-3, 44-30.
13 - Holder (62.8), Morris, Harris, Howe. 4-2, 48-32.
14 - Ostergaard (64.2), Etheridge, Knight, Bacon. 3-3, 51-35.