Super guest Ryan Douglas’ birthday brilliance was not enough to halt Peterborough Panthers’ losing run last night (September 9).
The Australian, borrowed for the night from Wolverhampton, produced an incredible 18+1 haul at reserve as the city side were pipped 46-44 by table-topping Swindon.
It meant rock-bottom Panthers suffered a 12th consecutive SGB Premiership defeat despite the exploits of Douglas, who reeled off five wins from seven rides on the day he turned 26.
But Rohan Tungate was the only other home racer to manage a victory although new number one Charles Wright was cruelly denied by a broken chain which caused him to fall when leading the opening heat.
Team boss Carl Johnson said: “We were close to getting the win we all want against Belle Vue last Thursday – and we were even closer last night.
“Ryan was absolutely sensational but, as has been the story of our season, we had other riders not performing again.
“We’ve now completed all but one of our league meetings and we’ve still not all clicked on the same night.
“I can only thank the fans who turned out on a night when the weather wasn’t great and both teams served up some good racing.”
Wright’s unfortunate exit handed Swindon a 5-1 to start, but Panthers hit back immediately as Douglas and reserve partner Ulrich Ostergaard (who again scored solidly with paid seven) provided the perfect reply in heat two.
But another maximum return for the Robins in the third contest allowed them to move into a lead they would never surrender.
There was relief all round when Tungate and both Swindon men, Troy Batchelor and Claus Vissing, walked away from the carnage of a crash in heat four for which the latter rider was excluded.
Panthers’ deficit grew to eight points before back-to-back 4-2s, inspired by Tungate and Douglas in the seventh and eighth contests respectively, halved the arrears.
They were agonisingly close to a 5-1 in the second of those races with out-of-sorts Ty Proctor holding second spot until a puncture allowed Adam Ellis through just before the line.
But 4-2 gains from Swindon in the 11th and 13th heats then restored an eight-point cushion and left Panthers needing back-to-back 5-1s to salvage a draw.
Douglas and Ostergaard superbly provided one of them in the penultimate race before the guest star also triumphed in the finale.
But partner Wright had to settle for third spot when unable to find a way past Swindon top-scorer Rasmus Jensen as Panthers came up just short.
The city club have one more SGB Premiership fixture to go – at home to Wolverhampton next Tuesday (September 17). The bad news is Douglas will be on the opposing team!
PANTHERS: Ryan Douglas (guest) 18+1, Charles Wright 6+1, Rohan Tungate 6, Ulrich Ostergaard 5+2, Hans Andersen 5, Scott Nicholls 2+1, Ty Proctor 2.
SWINDON: Rasmus Jensen 13, Adam Ellis 10+1, Jason Doyle 9+1, Troy Batchelor 9, Tobiasz Musielak 3+1, Ellis Perks 1, Claus Vissing 1.