MEETING REPORT: Honour in defeat after a number one dropout
Peterborough Panthers were defeated but not disgraced last night (July 8).
The city racers saw their four-match winning streak ended by a 51-41 reverse at Glasgow in the SGB Championship.
A loss in this Scottish stronghold, where the Tigers boast a 100 per cent record, is certainly no surprise. In fact it’s pretty impressive that Panthers kept themselves in contention throughout a night in which they were without a number one.
The booking of guest Ben Barker – to deputise for Chris Harris, who was on World Cup duty with Great Britain - may well have be viewed as controversial by many due to a couple of spats with Panthers ace Jack Holder this season.
And it appears that his pull-out on the morning of the meeting due to a sickness bug could also be seen in the same light after the Redcar rider was apparently spotted attending another meeting yesterday.
Team boss Carl Johnson said: “We’re aware of pictures in circulation that show Ben attending a National League meeting at Stoke last night.
“Of course a sickness bug might not necessarily prevent someone going to a speedway meeting, but it does seem a somewhat strange thing to do after pulling out of a guest booking at the same time.
“We have to take the word of a rider at face value and we can only hope that nothing untoward has gone on.
“Obviously it is far from ideal to go into an important meeting without a number one, but the rest of the guys still gave a decent account of themselves.
“We picked up eight points from what would have been Ben’s rides, but I would have expected him to get more than that at a track where he used to ride and goes well.
“We still battled hard and gave a good account of ourselves – and there is certainly no disgrace in losing by 10 points at Glasgow.”
Paul Starke and skipper Ulrich Ostergaard were the pick of the Panthers riders who did actually make it to Ashfield Stadium.
Starke contributed 13+1 to top the city side’s scorechart for the second successive meeting, while Ostergaard contributed 11+2 as he returned for his own bout of illness which ruled him out of a Thursday triumph at Redcar.
They were responsible for all three of Panthers’ heat wins and either Starke or Ostergaard - or both - featured in all four of the club’s race advantages.
They teamed up for the first of them in heat 3 when slamming in a 5-1 and Starke took the flag again in a fifth-heat 4-2 as an early six-point deficit was wiped out.
But Glasgow then upped the ante with two 5-1s and a 4-2 in the space of five races to ease into a 10-point advantage.
A second place for Starke, when taking a tactical ride in heat 12, did cut the arrears briefly, but a 5-1 from top Tigers pair Aaron Summers and Richard Lawson in the next instalment sealed victory for the hosts.
Ostergaard triumphed in a 4-2 in the penultimate race to give Panthers hope of snatching a consolation point in the finale, but Glasgow skipper Summers completed a full, 15-point maximum to thwart them.
Tom Bacon was another Panthers rider to impress with paid eight from reserve, but Holder proved he is human after all when only managing seven from his five outings.
Johnson added: “We made a poor start but put it right to get ourselves back level.
“The key spell was between heat six and heat 10 and that’s where the meeting got away from us in all honesty.
“We kept going and Glasgow knew they had been in a meeting, but it’s very tough to come back from a big deficit against a team who are so strong at home.
“There were plenty of positives with ‘Starkey’ flying and Ulrich back in great form. Tom put in a great shift down at reserve, but Jack had an off-night by his high standard.
“He has never won a race at Glasgow and it’s not a track he enjoys. He struggled out of the starts and that makes life hard up there.”
Panthers are back in action later this week with a run of three meetings in as many days.
They host Sheffield on Friday (July 14), go to Workington on Saturday (July 15) and then entertain Redcar on Sunday (July 16).
GLASGOW: Aaron Summers 15, Richard Lawson 11+1, Nike Lunna 8+2, Richie Worrall 7, Tom Perry 4+1, Jack Smith 3, Dan Bewley 3.
PANTHERS: Paul Starke 13+1, Ulrich Ostergaard 11+2, Jack Holder 7, Tom Bacon 6+2, Bradley Wilson-Dean 4+2, Liam Carr 0, Rider replacement for Chris Harris.
* Panthers number one Chris Harris top-scored for Great Britain in the World Cup final last night.
Harris’ seven points were not enough to prevent the national side from finishing last at Leszno, in Poland.
The host nation were convincing winners with 50 points, while Sweden took silver on 42. Russia (18pts) pipped GB (15pts) to bronze medals.