A dramatic local derby win moves Peterborough Panthers to within one win of confirming a Premiership play-off place
Peterborough Panthers’ incredible season keeps on rolling thanks to a dramatic 46-44 victory at local rivals King’s Lynn last night (August 12).
Panthers had to dig deep for their latest triumph on the road, with a much-improved Stars side threatening on several occasions to send their own fans home happy.
It came down to a last-heat decider with the Stars initially looking set to complete a comeback from six points down to snatch the win themselves, but Chris Harris and Michael Palm Toft had other ideas as both passed the previously unbeaten Richard Lawson for the 3-3 the visitors needed.
There was plenty of action throughout another highly entertaining meeting on a perfectly prepared track at the Adrian Flux Arena.
Panthers had to wait until Heat 4 for their first race winner, with Harris pulling off the first of many spectacular moves by surging around Thomas Jorgensen into the third bend.
But the Stars still edged their way into a four-point lead only for skipper Scott Nicholls and Palm Toft to hit back for the Panthers in Heat 7 when Thomas Jorgensen anticipated the start and was left trailing.
King’s Lynn looked set for a 5-1 of their own in Heat 9 only for Harris to find the narrowest of gaps to split Erik Riss and Lewis Kerr on the line, and the home side went into the final five races two points to the good.
Panthers then hit their hosts strongly with back-to-back 5-1s, firstly from Bjarne Pedersen and Palm Toft in Heat 11, and then with Palm Toft expertly rounding Riss off turn two in Heat 12 whilst Hans Andersen forced his way through on the inside.
An epic Heat 13 followed with Pedersen fending off every attack from Lawson until the very last bend when the Stars’ number one made it around the outside – but Harris had also passed Jorgensen at the start of the last lap for what became a 3-3, with the Dane crashing on the final turn.
Panthers’ six-point advantage enabled the Stars to bring in Lawson for a tactical substitute outing in Heat 14, and he duly made it five wins out of five – and with Lewis Kerr second for a 5-1, it ensured a nervous finale with every outcome possible.
With a shared race needed, Panthers considered all rider options and gate positions before plumping for Palm Toft off gate two and Harris off four.
Away from the start, the Stars looked set for a grandstand 5-1 to snatch victory, but Harris had the run on the outside and made it out of turn two ahead of Lawson having threaded the narrowest of gaps – and to the delight of the Panthers fans, Palm Toft followed him through on the inside, with the two then content to follow leader Riss home knowing the 3-3 was all that was needed.
Panthers manager Rob Lyon said: “I knew it would be tougher tonight than last time here, because they’ve made a couple of changes and I think it has strengthened their team.
“You could see they were up for it, and fair play to them, but what can I say about our team? They just keep grinding away, and we don’t panic, we know we’ve got quality in certain heats, and it paid off for us.
“Heat 15 was a toss-up really because Bjarne had started to go well after changing bike, but I just felt Bomber had a race in him and could spoil the party a bit.
“Tofty had been excellent all night, and it worked out well. We were out-trapped initially, but the boys pulled it out and it’s a great result for us.
“The beauty of the team is that points are coming from different directions, and I wouldn’t say it’s making my job easier, but it’s certainly the recipe for success on-track.”
The victory means Panthers are mathematically one more win away from officially confirming their place in the play-offs.
That issue may be resolved even before they next take to the track, and their sights now realistically are set on finishing top of the table.
Leaders Wolverhampton also won away from home 46-44 at Sheffield last night to retain their three point lead at the top of the Premiership table.
The West Midlands side are Panthers’ next opponents in what promises to be an East of England Arena classic on August 23.
KING’S LYNN 44: Richard Lawson 15, Erik Riss 11+1, Lewis Kerr 5+1, Kasper Andersen 4+1, Thomas Jorgensen 4, Ben Barker 3, Connor Mountain 2+1.
PETERBOROUGH 46: Chris Harris 12+1, Michael Palm Toft 11+4, Scott Nicholls 10+1, Bjarne Pedersen 9+1, Hans Andersen 4+1, Jordan Palin 0, Ulrich Ostergaard r/r.