Shock home defeat leaves Peterborough Panthers with just one more chance to clinch top spot in the Premiership
Peterborough Panthers have been made to wait to clinch top spot in the Premiership after going down to a shock 39-51 home defeat at the hands of Sheffield last night (September 20).
Panthers suffered an almost all-round bad night at the office as the Tigers impressed greatly, exacting swift revenge for Peterborough’s 50-40 victory at Owlerton four nights earlier.
And it means Panthers now face a massive home fixture on Thursday (September 23) against local rivals King’s Lynn, where nothing less than a win will do to secure the league leadership and gain choice of opponents in the play-off semi-finals.
That choice, should it be Panthers’ to take, now looks even more complicated as Sheffield produced one of their best displays of the season and thoroughly deserved their win.
Michael Palm Toft bounced back from a last place in his first ride to emerge as the star of the night for the hosts, and youngster Jordan Palin put in a strong display in his first meeting back from injury, but the Tigers otherwise controlled the meeting.
They led through a first-race 5-1 from ex-Panthers duo Jack Holder and Troy Batchelor, and it took Rob Lyon’s side until Heat 6 to level the scores.
That was down to wins from Palm Toft and guest Thomas Jorgensen, but Sheffield quickly went back ahead in Heat 7 as skipper Kyle Howarth held off Chris Harris, and Panthers were then stunned when Batchelor and reserve Danyon Hume carded a big 5-1 over Bjarne Pedersen and Hans Andersen in the next.
Lyon deployed Palm Toft for a tactical substitute outing in Heat 10 but that race actually saw Sheffield extend their advantage despite the Dane’s efforts to get up with Josh Pickering, as Howarth held on to third spot from Jorgensen.
Harris and Palin both overtook Batchelor after more fast starting from the visitors in Heat 11, and Palm Toft superbly worked his way from last to first in Heat 12, snatching victory from Howarth on the line.
But British Champion Adam Ellis roared clear with Holder in Heat 13 for the Tigers’ third 5-1 of the night to put the match beyond Panthers and turn the full focus onto Thursday night.
Lyon said: “I guess it’s probably a bit of a shock that we got turned over the way we did, and now the boys are looking to re-group for Thursday.
“If you’re going to have a shock let’s have it now, let’s get it out of the way, and re-focus on what we need to do, not just on Thursday but beyond that obviously.
“Sheffield came here tonight and did a job on us, there’s no doubt about that, and they deserved it. They were pretty solid all the way through, they were consistently out-trapping us, and we made it hard work for ourselves.
“But the boys are aware of it, we know where we went wrong, so we’ll get it out of the way now and re-focus for Thursday.”
PETERBOROUGH 39: Michael Palm Toft 13, Scott Nicholls 7+1, Chris Harris 5+2, Jordan Palin 5, Thomas Jorgensen 3, Hans Andersen 3, Bjarne Pedersen 3.
SHEFFIELD 51: Adam Ellis 13, Jack Holder 9+2, Josh Pickering 8+1, Kyle Howarth 8, Troy Batchelor 7+1, Danyon Hume 5+1, James Wright 1+1.