Peterborough Panthers are embarrassed despite plenty of the Wright stuff

Charles Wright (red helmet) and Ben Barker (blue) contest heat five for Panthers against Ipswich. Photo: David Lowndes.
Charles Wright (red helmet) and Ben Barker (blue) contest heat five for Panthers against Ipswich. Photo: David Lowndes.
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They might have Wright . . . but there is also a hell of a lot wrong for Peterborough Panthers.

A crushing 51-39 home loss at the hands of new SGB Premiership leaders Ipswich in an East Anglian derby clash at the East of England Arena last night (May 13) only served to highlight their problems.

Rohan Tungate of Panthers leads heat seven in the meeting with Ipswich. Photo: David Lowndes.

Rohan Tungate of Panthers leads heat seven in the meeting with Ipswich. Photo: David Lowndes.

A pre-match warning from team boss Carl Johnson that anything less than a complete performance would lead to defeat came disappointingly and emphatically true.

‘Embarrassing’ was the Panthers chief’s chosen post-meeting description of a 12-point drubbing in which his side claimed only six heat wins and five advantages.

The returning (but presumably far from fully fit) Lasse Bjerre inexplicably ploughing into the tapes at the start of heat one set the tone for the sub-standard showing that followed.

It would have been much worse than that had it not been for another stellar outing from the aforementioned Charles Wright, who took four victories in a 14-point display.

Hans Anderson (red) of Panthers racing in heat one against Ipswich. Photo: David Lowndes.

Hans Anderson (red) of Panthers racing in heat one against Ipswich. Photo: David Lowndes.

Few of his team-mates emerged with any credit and it has now reached the point where the city side’s inconsistencies have actually become all too consistent.

A recipe featuring mechanical issues, last places and a failure to get to grips with their own Alwalton track means Panthers’ return to the top-flight could well turn into a battle to avoid the basement.

Johnson admitted: “We didn’t start well enough, we didn’t ride well enough and we got exactly what we deserved – a heavy home defeat.

“The racing was pretty good again, but that’s of little consolation when suffering an result like this in front of our own fans. It’s just embarrassing.

“We couldn’t get out of the gates, we weren’t hard enough in the first corner and our performance was lacking in almost every way.

“The extra grip on the track caught us out as well, but it is the same for both teams.

“It seems to be the same riders struggling far too often and we’ve got to look at our options.”

Panthers found themselves 10 points adrift after just three races - the last of which came complete with another new track record

Once again - as was the case with Belle Vue man Max Fricke and Poole ace Brady Kurtz - it was a visiting rider entering the record-books.

Ipswich star Danny King began his career in the Peterborough Pumas junior set-up of old and is a lover of the big Alwalton track, but even he must have been surprised to clock 57.4 secs - four tenths quicker than Kurtz’s previous best.

The meeting also featured the fastest time of the season by a Panthers rider as Wright picked himself up off the deck to win the fifth instalment in 57.8 seconds which would have equalled the previous track record.

That effort provided a first Panthers success and advantage of the evening although a fightback never looked likely despite Wright’s terrific display.

Rohan Tungate and captain Hans Andersen were the only other home riders to pick up a race win although both of those men suffered retirements in their final appearances. The city side also weren’t helped by Bradley Wilson-Dean suffering a bout of sickness.

Their arrears grew to a maximum of 14 points after a fourth Ipswich 5-1 of the night in heat eight although they did close to within eight points (admittedly way too little and far too late) when Wright and Aaron Summers bagged a 4-2 in the penultimate contest.

The margin returned to double-figures when Wright was powerless to prevent Chris Harris and Richard Lawson from gaining a 5-1 in the final after Andersen packed up in the opening corner.

Harris was, of course, initially signed by Panthers for 2019 only to be released in January after previous promoter Ged Rathbone’s side was a budget buster.

But Panthers might well have to splash the cash now in a bid to inject new blood into a struggling side which returns to the track on May 23 when hosting Poole.

SCORES

PANTHERS: Charles Wright 14, Rohan Tungate 7, Aaron Summers 6+1, Hans Andersen 6, Ben Barker 3, Lasse Bjerre 2+1, Bradley Wilson-Dean 1+1.

IPSWICH: Richard Lawson 9+2, Chris Harris 9, Jake Allen 9, Cameron Heeps 8+2, Danny King 8, David Bellego 4+1, Krystian Pieszczek 4+1.

HEATS

1 – re-run Lawson (57.9), Summers, Harris, Andersen. 2-4, 2-4.

2 – Allen (57.9), Heeps, Summers, Wilson-Dean. 1-5, 3-9.

3 – King (57.4), Bellego, Wright, Barker. 1-5, 4-14.

4 – Allen (57.9), Tungate, Wilson-Dean, Pieszczek. 3-3, 7-17.

5 – re-run Wright (57.8), Lawson, Barker, Harris (exc). 4-2, 11-19.

6 – re-run Pieszczek (58.2), Heeps, Andersen, Bjerre. 1-5, 12-24.

7 – Tungate (58.1), King, Summers, Bellego. 4-2, 16-26.

8 – Allen (58.5), Lawson, Bjerre, Wilson-Dean (fell). 1-5, 17-31.

9 – Wright (58.3), Heeps, Barker, Pieszczek (ret). 4-2, 21-33.

10 – King (58.1), Andersen, Bjerre, Bellego. 3-3, 24-36.

11 – Harris (58.9), Tungate, Summers, Lawson. 3-3, 27-39

12 – Wright (t/s, 58.8), Heeps, Barker, King. 4-2, 31-41.

13 – Andersen (59.0), Hrri, Pieszczek, Tungate (ret). 3-3, 34-44.

14 – Wright (59.3), Bellego, Summers, Allen. 4-2, 38-46.

15 – Harris (59.2), Lawson, Wright, Andersen (ret). 1-5, 39-51.