Peterborough Panthers lose a six-point lead and top spot in the Premiership on a frustrating night at the Showground as Belle Vue ace shatters track record

Peterborough Panthers’ terrific six-meeting winning run came to an end as they suffered a 38-52 home defeat at the hands of an impressive Belle Vue outfit last night (July 19).

By Nigel Pearson
Tuesday, 20th July 2021, 6:50 am
Ulrich Ostergaard (red) and Hans Andersen (blue) take a 5-1 for Panthers in Heat 1 against Belle Vue. Photo: David Lowndes.
Ulrich Ostergaard (red) and Hans Andersen (blue) take a 5-1 for Panthers in Heat 1 against Belle Vue. Photo: David Lowndes.

The Aces again showed their liking for a super-fast East of England Arena circuit with brilliant British youngster Dan Bewley lowering the track record to 57.2 on a night when the old mark was threatened on several occasions.

But for Panthers it was a rare night of frustration as they lost not only a six-point lead on the night, but also top spot in the Premiership - and in fact dropped to third courtesy of Belle Vue taking all four league points and Wolverhampton’s home win over Ipswich.

Yet it had all started so well with Hans Andersen and newly promoted number one Ulrich Ostergaard combining for a first-race 5-1, and with Scott Nicholls and Chris Harris heading up 4-2 successes, the Aces were quickly forced to use a tactical substitute. Bewley duly won that race in his track record breaking Heat 5, but Ostergaard got the better of him in Heat 6 as Panthers restored a six-point gap.

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Scott Nicholls (blue) and Michael Palm Toft (red) racing in Heat 3 for Panthers against Belle Vue. Photo: David Lowndes.

From there, though, the Aces worked their way back in with both Bjarne Pedersen and Harris making passing moves in Heats 7 and 8 against Steve Worrall to prevent 5-1s to the visitors.

There was no escape, though in Heat 10 when former Panthers man Charles Wright steamed under Andersen to link up with Worrall and put the Aces ahead for the first time.

The home side trailed by four points with four races to go and suffered a huge blow when Harris hit trouble off the start in Heat 12, meaning a brilliant ride from Michael Palm Toft to get the better of Worrall and Jye Etheridge was damage limitation.

And the Aces soon put a lock on the points with Bewley and Brady Kurtz charging clear in Heat 13 leaving Panthers themselves using a tactical substitute in Heat 14 – but on this occasion, Palm Toft and Nicholls were trumped by an outstanding effort by Etheridge, who joined Wright for another 5-1 to the visitors.

That secured all four points for the Aces, and they were only denied a hat-trick of late 5-1s by a forceful Harris pass on Bewley in the final race.

Panthers boss Rob Lyon said: “I thought it was going to be a tight meeting anyway, and I predicted we’d come out on top by a couple of points, but fair play to Belle Vue as they were the better team towards the end of the meeting.

“They certainly put it to us and were comfortable in the end, but we know the reasons why we’ve lost, just as we knew after the first home meeting of the season.

“Hopefully when we get towards the business end and we’re looking at play-offs, we’ll have a different strategy to make sure that whoever we ride in the semi-final, if we get there, we’ll have some home advantage – but that’s for the future.

“The track staff did a great job in all the heat, and it rode really well. It was the same for both teams and we were second-best tonight, so we need to recover and go again on Thursday at Sheffield.”

PETERBOROUGH 38: Chris Harris 9, Michael Palm Toft 8+1, Bjarne Pedersen 6, Scott Nicholls 5, Ulrich Ostergaard 5+1, Hans Andersen 5, Jordan Palin 0.

BELLE VUE 52: Dan Bewley 13+1, Steve Worrall 10+1, Brady Kurtz 10, Jye Etheridge 9+1, Charles Wright 6+1, Tom Brennan 4, Richie Worrall r/r.