Peterborough Panthers finish a disappointing season in style

Ulrich Ostergaard (centre) and Scott Nicholls lead Panthers to a crucial 5-1 in the final heat against Wolverhampton. Photo: Jeff Davies.
Ulrich Ostergaard (centre) and Scott Nicholls lead Panthers to a crucial 5-1 in the final heat against Wolverhampton. Photo: Jeff Davies.
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They did it . . . Peterborough Panthers finally won a speedway meeting.

The city team brought the curtain down on their SGB Premiership campaign on a winning note last night (September 17).

Hans Andersen leads the way for Panthers against Wolverhampton. Photo: Jeff Davies.

Hans Andersen leads the way for Panthers against Wolverhampton. Photo: Jeff Davies.

A 48-42 success against Wolverhampton at the East of England Arena snapped a 12-match losing run for rock-bottom Panthers which stretches back to late June.

And their first triumph for almost three months was greeted by a mixture of relief and delight from team boss Carl Johnson.

He said: “It’s great to end the losing run. A win has been coming for a while and everyone dug deep to ensure it happened by producing a fantastic performance.

“We know it’s far too little, far too late in terms of the season as a whole, but we were determined to send the fans home happy. They have stuck with us and this result is for them.

“No-one wanted our first season back in the top-flight to turn out in the way it has – and certainly no-one is happy about finishing bottom.

“But someone always has to be there and I don’t think any other club could have done anything differently if hit by the huge number of injuries we’ve had.

“Now it’s all about planning for the future. The first thing to decide is which league we’ll be in and I think that will be the top one again.

“Once that’s certain we can really press on with putting together the team for 2020.”

It was a solid shift from the city racers last night with all seven of their riders responsible for at least one paid victory.

Naturally, it wasn’t plain sailing with Panthers falling behind on three separate occasions before they eventually took command with a late double-salvo of 5-1s.

British Grand Prix-bound number one Charles Wright led home Rohan Tungate in heat 13 before Ulrich Ostergaard and Scott Nicholls followed suit in the penultimate contest to secure victory.

That effort provided further proof that Ostergaard is still more than capable of racing at this level while it was a case of saving the best until last for Nicholls with his final Alwalton one of the finest he has produced since returning to the club in May.

The sweetest finish to such a sour season would undoubtedly have been a Hans Andersen triumph in the final race and that looked a real possibility as he scythed his way from third to first.

But the Panthers skipper was unable to keep top-scoring Wolverhampton man Jacob Thorssell at bay with the visiting Swede taking the flag to bring the curtain down on another campaign at the East of England Arena.

Thorssell’s efforts earned a 4-2 in the closing instalment which clinched a consolation point of no relevance for a Wolves side long since assured of a play-off spot.

And that’s exactly where Panthers intend to be themselves in 2020 with Johnson concluding a rousing post-meeting address to supporters by stating: “Next year we’ll be back bigger, better, stronger an in the play-offs.”

Hopefully he is right, although there is still one more bit of business to take care of in the current campaign.

Panthers must face Wolverhampton again in a meaningless SGB Premiership Supporters’ Cup away clash which was postponed all the way back in April.

That meeting is now provisionally scheduled for October 13.

SCORES

PANTHERS: Hans Andersen 10+1, Charles Wright 8+1, Rohan Tungate 8+1, Jason Garrity 6+1, Ty Proctor 6+1, Ulrich Ostergaard 6, Scott Nicholls 4+1.

WOLVERHAMPTON: Jacob Thorssell 13, Ryan Douglas 8+1, Nick Morris 8+1, Kyle Howarth 5, Luke Becker 4+1, Rory Schlein 4+1, Rider replacement for Sam Masters.