Team manager Carl Johnson admitted Peterborough Panthers don’t look like play-offs contenders after slumping to a second successive SGB Premiership home defeat.
The city side – without injured captain Hans Andersen - slid out of the top four after falling to a 49-41 reverse at the hands of a Wolverhampton side who arrived at the East of England Arena in bottom spot.
But it was Panthers who were out of sorts as they provided fewer than half of the heat-winners, only managed two race advantages and racked up 10 last places.
Had it not been for terrific top-scorer Rohan Tungate, the hard-working Charles Wright and reliable reserve Aaron Summers, who chipped in with two wins, they would have been beaten even more heavily.
A noticeably low crowd will also have been a cause of concern for club chiefs, although the competition of a world famous singer in concert a couple of miles away and the proximity of another home meeting on Monday (July 15) against title-chasers Belle Vue are probably valid reasons for the poor turnout.
“Of course we were a man down without Hans, but that shouldn’t be an excuse,” said Johnson. “We were still more than capable of winning the meeting if all the riders performed to the levels they should.
“Unfortunately we didn’t start the meeting well enough, we didn’t start races well enough and we were beaten by the better team. We focused too much on setting up our bikes for the track rather than on making good gates.
“We’ve had a couple of bad nights in a row at home and we’re not play-off material at the moment, but we have to bounce back.
“There’s no denying the crowd was poor and we expected more people here. But there were probably thousands of women throwing everything at Tom Jones down the road and we have another big meeting coming up on Monday!”
Those that were present at Alwalton will have been left thoroughly underwhelmed by the display of the city side. Unfortunately, to borrow a famous lyric from the Welsh maestro, it is not unusual for Panthers to struggle at home these days.
They didn’t show anywhere need enough sharpness from the gate, anywhere near enough speed on the track and anywhere near enough fight – apart from when Wright engaged in a bout of post-race fisticuffs with Wolverhampton rival Kyle Howarth – as they trailed by 12 points for a big chunk of the contest after Wolverhampton slammed in four advantages in six races.
That skirmish followed a heat nine clash where Howarth forcefully passed Wright for second place – a move so aggressive that Johnson felt the visiting rider should have been black-flagged.
But the Panthers team boss also felt the reaction of Wright was unacceptable as he appeared to barge Howarth off his machine before they traded blows on the second bend.
Johnson added: “It was unfair riding in my mind and Kyle should have been thrown out of the race.
“Had Charles not shut off, he would have been in the fence. Kyle would definitely have been excluded then, but you shouldn’t have to bail off your bike for a referee to take action.
“We do want entertainment in speedway, but not in that way. The matter could have been dealt with a little bit better and I let Charles know that.
“He’s not the sort of guy to hold many grudges, but there is clearly a bit of bad blood there.
“From what I’m told, Kyle did something similar to Charles when they rode against each other in the Championship at the weekend.”
Panthers slipped from fourth to sixth in the top-flight standings last night. A return to form is required when they host Belle Vue on Monday (7.30pm) in a meeting being screened live on BT Sport.
PANTHERS: Rohan Tungate 15+1, Charles Wright 10+1, Aaron Summers 6, Scott Nicholls 4, Josh Bates 3+2, Ty Proctor 3, Rider replacement for Hans Andersen.
WOLVERHAMPTON: Ryan Douglas 12+1, Jacob Thorsell 9, Rory Schlein 7+2, Sam Masters 7+1, Nick Morris 5+1, Kyle Howarth 5, Luke Becker 4+2.