Peterborough Panthers joint team boss Carl Johnson has refused to give up hope of snatching second place in the Premier League . . . despite seeing his side put to the sword by fellow play-off contenders for the second successive night.
The city side went down 57-35 at Somerset last night (August 28) hot on the heels of a 61-29 drubbing at Ipswich 24 hours earlier.
Panthers were again let down by a lack of race winners. They managed only one at Ipswich and just two last night.
Recent recruit Ben Barker bagged the first in a shared fourth heat before captain Ulrich Ostergaard, whose top-scoring display was a major positive after an injury lay-off, inspired their only heat advantage when taking the flag in the finale.
Panthers are seven points off a second spot now occupied by Somerset, but they do still have 10 points up for grabs in their three remaining meetings.
Johnson said: “It’s obviously going to be hard to get second place from this position, but that remains the target.
“We have to be realistic and accept we will probably full short, but while it is mathematically possible we will go for it.
“We rode better than the result suggests at Somerset. We didn’t win anywhere near enough races again, but we kept things tight for half-a-dozen heats.
“They are a very strong side though. The main body of the Somerset team is very powerful and they were also able to give their top reserve seven rides.”
That reserve, Paul Starke, top-scored with paid 13 after his bottom-end partner Ollie Greenwood, who spent the first half of the season with Panthers, crashed out in heat two with a suspected broken collar-bone.
Josh Grajczonek and frequent Panthers guest Brady Kurtz were others to impress for the hosts.
Captain Ostergaard led the way for Panthers with a four-point tactical ride – when he followed in Grajczonek in heat 11 – taking his tally into double-figures.
Barker and guest Carl Wilkinson both scored solidly while Emil Grondal was paid for six points in his first visit to the Oak Tree Arena.
Reserve Simon Lambert, who recently missed more than four weeks with a broken shoulder blade, was taken out of his last ride by Johnson.
Panthers can claim revenge when entertaining Somerset at the East of England Showground on Bank Holiday Monday (3pm). Latest signing Anders Thomsen is set to make his debut in the return clash.
SOMERSET: Paul Starke 11+2, Josh Grajczonek 10+1, Brady Kurtz 9+1, Rasmus
Jensen 9+1, Charles Wright 9, Richie Worrall 9, Ollie Greenwood 0 (withdrawn).
PANTHERS: Ulrich Ostergaard 11+1, Ben Barker 8, Carl Wilkinson (guest) 7,
Emil Grondal 4+2, Simon Lambert 4, Rafal Konopka 1+1, Rider replacement for Lewis Blackbird.