'Embarrassing' from Peterborough Panthers despite the brilliance of maximum-man Chris Harris

Chris Harris roared to a sensational 18-point maximum, but it wasn’t enough to prevent Peterborough Panthers from extending their winless run in the Premiership as they lost out 50-40 at home to Wolverhampton.

By Alan Swann
Friday, 3rd June 2022, 9:34 am
Chris Harris out in front and on his way to a brilliant maximum for Panthers against Wolves. Photo: David Lowndes.
Chris Harris out in front and on his way to a brilliant maximum for Panthers against Wolves. Photo: David Lowndes.

Harris was in vintage form at the East of England Area as he reeled off six wins out of six, with a display which would ordinarily have been enough to help any team to victory.But the Crendon Panthers continue to struggle as an all-round unit, and support for Harris was in short supply, with the best of the rest coming from Michael Palm Toft and Benjamin Basso despite an assortment of mechanical and tyre-related difficulties.Basso, in fact, suffered two punctures and a broken chain, whilst Palm Toft broke down in Heat 1 when Wolves set the tone as Sam Masters and Steve Worrall raced away for a 5-1 advantage.Basso threw everything at youngster Leon Flint in Heat 2 but the Wolves reserve held an impressive line, and the visitors’ second maximum came courtesy of Ryan Douglas and Luke Becker in Heat 3, the latter passing Ulrich Ostergaard mid-race.Harris stemmed the tide with a brilliant Heat 4 effort, quickly going past Flint and then pressuring Nick Morris into an error enabling him to go through on the last lap.But relief was short-lived as Masters and Worrall out-gated Ostergaard and Hans Andersen in Heat 5 to make the score a remarkable 22-8 in Wolves’ favour.From then on, Panthers got going, with Basso and Palm Toft launching their night with an excellent 5-1 in Heat 6 after Scott Nicholls had been disqualified for touching the tapes.But major advantages thereafter proved elusive, the best opportunity coming in Heat 9 when Harris came in for a tactical substitute ride and held a 5-1 position with Andersen for a couple of laps before Morris powered his way past the Dane.That was Harris’s third win, and he made it four in Heat 11 before a dramatic Heat 12 saw Basso and Andersen out-front for Panthers after a tough opening lap with Flint and Becker, only for the American to navigate his way through to win for the visitors.With Harris winning Heat 13, a third place secured on the last bend by Palm Toft passing Morris kept Panthers in with an outside chance, eight points down with two races remaining.But Wolves secured their win in Heat 14 as Ryan Douglas picked himself up from an awkward first-bend spill in the initial staging to take the flag, with Flint inheriting third place when Basso hit trouble.Harris completed his stellar night’s work with his sixth win out of six Heat 15, but Worrall and Becker packed the places to ensure a maximum four league points for Wolves.Peterborough manager Rob Lyon said: “We’re slow from the starts, and slow to get going, and the irony of it is we had probably Bomber’s best-ever performance in a Peterborough race-jacket tonight, and we still lost by ten.“The boys don’t go out there to come last obviously, but it’s baffling. Somebody said to me Wolves have got some quick riders – they have, but last year we had a very similar team, and they had similar riders too, and we beat them comfortably.“Okay, it’s all on the night, but it doesn’t make any sense at all, and it’s now getting embarrassing. It’s not good enough.“Our fans came out in force, we had a decent crowd and we’ve not performed, and I don’t really have the answers if I’m honest.“One or two riders have problems with engines, I understand that, and it’s not easy to put right sometimes – and then when bikes don’t go right, confidence goes and it’s a vicious circle really.“But at the end of the day we have meetings to try and win, and it’s all a head-scratcher at the moment. We did have major problems with tyres tonight as well, and I don’t think Wolverhampton did particularly, so that was a strange one.”Panthers’ next opportunity to turn things around is in next Monday’s return fixture against Wolverhampton at Monmore Green.

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PETERBOROUGH 40: Chris Harris 18, Benajmin Basso 7, Michael Palm Toft 6+1, Hans Andersen 3+1, Ulrich Ostergaard 3, Scott Nicholls 3, Jordan Jenkins 0.WOLVERHAMPTON 50: Steve Worrall 11+2, Luke Becker 9+3, Sam Masters 9+1, Ryan Douglas 9+1, Leon Flint 6+1, Nick Morris 5, Drew Kemp 1.

Peterborough Panthers v Wolverhampton Wolves speedway action heat 6 (red) Michael Palm Toft and (blue) Benjamin Basso
Scott Nicholls in action for Peterborough Panthers against Wolves. Photo: David Lowndes.