Speedway - ‘unacceptable’ display as Panthers lose at home

Emil Grondal was Panthers top scorer against Edinburgh. Picture: David Lowndes

Emil Grondal was Panthers top scorer against Edinburgh. Picture: David Lowndes

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Two heat advantages and four heat winners are not the sort of statistics usually associated with successful speedway teams

But they were the disappointing numbers being crunched by Peterborough Panthers bosses in the wake of their latest home defeat yesterday (August 9).

And they were accompanied by some strong words from joint team boss Carl Johnson who described the city side’s display in a 49-41 loss at the hands of reigning champions Edinburgh as being ‘unacceptable’.

He was also forthright in his views of the meeting-changing incident involving new number one Robert Lambert who crashed spectacularly after over-cooking it going through the last bend on the last lap of heat 10 while a clear leader.

The teenager cartwheeled down the straight following what Johnson dubbed an act of ‘stupidity’ and in the process threw away a 5-1 return which would have stretched the Panthers’ advantage to six points.

Lambert withdrew following an extended interval due to neck and wrist pain and third-placed Panthers collapsed against the table-toppers without him.

They conceded two 5-1s and a 4-2 in the final three races as Edinburgh not only exacted revenge for a Friday loss in the reverse fixture, but departed in possession of all four available league points.

Johnson said: “We told the boys beforehand that winning up at Edinburgh on Friday would mean nothing if we lost at home.

“Unfortunately that is exactly what happened. Fair play to Edinburgh for doing a job on us, but our performance was unacceptable. We’ve let ourselves and the supporters down.

“We didn’t win anywhere near enough races and what happened to Robert is down to inexperience and stupidity. He knows better than to put himself in that position when comfortably winning a race.”

Emil Grondal was the star turn for Panthers as he battled his way to a paid 12-point haul. The World Under 21 finalist certainly looks like living up to the tall reputation with which he arrived in British speedway.

He provided two of Panthers’ four race wins and starred in one of their two 5-1s when following Lambert past Kevin Wolbert in heat six.

Rafal Konopka supplied the other success and advantage when leading home guest Luke Bowen for a maximum in heat two. The bottom-end pair bagged paid seven apiece and probably deserved slightly more.

It was in the middle order where Panthers were found somewhat wanting as stand-in skipper Lewis Blackbird and Michael Palm Toft did not look like winning races.

Edinburgh, on the other hand, were mightily impressive as they benefitted from the high-scoring of three riders.

Star number one Craig Cook (15+1), high-class second string Justin Sedgmen (14+3) and German ace Wolbert (11+1) flew to 40 points between them. Cook and Sedgmen were only beaten once by opponents in six-ride shifts while Wolbert bagged a hat-trick of heat wins.

Crucially, another German, Erik Riss, joined the party late on. His heat 14 triumph, when holding off all that Palm Toft could muster, left both teams needing a maximum in the finale.

Panthers had to pocket a 5-1 to salvage a draw while Edinburgh needed to do likewise to secure maximum league points. Unsurprisingly, given star pair Cook and Sedgmen were involved, the Monarchs got their wish.

Panthers have 12 days to stew on this loss as they don’t return to action until August 21 when entertaining Newcastle at Alwalton.

Johnson hinted they could consider making a new signing before then with captain Ulrich Ostergaard and star reserve Simon Lambert sidelined and concerns over the condition of young Robert Lambert now.

SCORES

PANTHERS: Emil Grondal 11+1, Lewis Blackbird 9, Robert Lambert 7 (withdrawn), Michael Palm Toft 5+2, Rafal Konopka 5+2, Luke Bowen (guest) 4+3, Rider replacement for Ulrich Ostergaard.

EDINBURGH: Craig Cook 15+1, Justin Sedgmen 14+3, Kevin Wolbert 11+1, Erik Riss 6, Robert Branford 3, Max Clegg 0, Rider replacement for Sam Masters.