Peterborough Panthers were left counting the cost of a late collapse as they saw their unbeaten Premier League away record ruined last night (July 10).
The city team, propped up by three guests with four of their own riders missing, were stung by struggling Scunthorpe Scorpions. Panthers possessed an eight-point cushion with three races remaining, but a hat-trick of 5-1s earned the hosts an unlikely 47-43 triumph.
In other circumstances the collection of another valuable league point may have been seen as a successful night’s work for a patched-up side on course for the play-offs, but it provided little consolation on this occasion.
“We are all disappointed we could not finish the job,” admitted returning Panthers skipper Ulrich Ostergaard. “From eight points up with three races to go against the bottom team in the league, we should not have been beaten.
“It is another step closer to being in the play-offs, which is our target, but we wanted the win and to keep our unbeaten away record going in the league.
“It wasn’t to be, but we are having a good season and we always seem to come back from a disappointing result. I’m sure we can do that again.”
Guests Matej Kus and Rohan Tungate were the star performers for Panthers with double-figures displays, but even they were powerless to prevent Scunthorpe snatching victory in a last heat decider.
Redcar man Kus earlier bagged a hat-trick of heat wins in a 13+1 haul while Ipswich ace Tungate reeled off four successive victories before being on the receiving end of some ruthless riding from Scunthorpe top-scorer Thomas Jorgensen, another guest, in heat 13.
But while two of the borrowed riders – Kus and Tungate – were hugely impressive aside from their heat 15 hammering, a shortage of points from their other guest proved costly.
Adam Roynon could manage only 2+1 from five rides as he took the place of chicken pox victim Michael Palm Toft – a former Premier League title-winner with Scunthorpe who would have been expected to excel back at the Eddie Wright Raceway – in the middle order.
The aggressive piece of Jorgensen riding in heat 13 was one of several incidents that did not please Panthers bosses. They also felt the same rider was guilty of attempting to jump the start on countless occasions - something he had also done repeatedly when riding for regular club Berwick against them two days earlier.
And Scunthorpe reserve Ben Wilson twice benefitted from generous decision from referee Mick Bates – earning another chance in heat two despite hitting the deck without any contact from opposing riders and being allowed into the re-run of heat 11 after appearing to cause Ostergaard to hit the deck in the initial staging.
Skipper Ostergaard was involved in two 5-1s in the opening five races. He was on the receiving end of one in the first instalment before blasting round the outside to lead home Kus for a full house of their own in heat five.
Panthers then zoomed clear thanks to a hat-trick of 4-2s with Tungate twice in winning form after Kus had set the wheels in motion in heat seven.
The second of Tungate’s triumphs – in heat nine – could be considered highly fortunate as Scunthorpe rider Alex Davies retired from the lead with a snapped chain.
A further race advantage in heat 12, when Davies denied them a 5-1 by nipping past Simon Lambert as Kus took the chequered flag, extended the advantage to eight points and made defeat an unthinkable proposition.
Think again. Jorgensen’s no-holds-barred treatment of Tungate followed by a hard pass on Ostergaard enabled him to follow in partner Ryan Douglas for a 5-1 in heat 13 that gave the hosts hope.
They emerged from a thrilling penultimate race with another maximum as Carl Wilkinson and Wilson repelled all that Adam Roynon and Lambert could throw at the them to leave the sides deadlocked going into the finale.
But it didn’t stay that way for long as Douglas against rocketed away with Jorgensen forcing his way through the traffic to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. For Panthers, it was a case of the opposite.
Panthers have been joined at the Premier League summit by reigning champions Edinburgh, who thumped Sheffield 60-31 last night.
And Sheffield are the city side’s next opponents as they visit the East of England Showground next Friday (July 17).
SCUNTHORPE: Thomas Jorgensen (guest) 12+2, Ryan Douglas 12, Carl Wilkinson 8, Theo Pijper 5+2, Nike Lunna 4+1, Ben Wilson 3+2, Alex Davies 3+1.
PANTHERS: Matej Kus (guest) 13+1, Rohan Tungate (guest) 13, Ulrich Ostergaard 8, Simon Lambert 4+1, Rafal Konopka 3, Adam Roynon 2+1, Rider replacement for Emil Grondal.