Peterborough Panthers’ torrid start to the new season continued thanks to another serious injury and another home defeat last night (March 27).
The city team lost number one Olly Allen to a suspected broken right leg and ankle that are likely to require surgery in a heavy heat six smash as they went down 51-40 to Rye House.
Allen slammed into the first-bend fence when attempting to squeeze around the outside of Rockets man Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen. Many members of the Panthers camp felt the visiting Dane was culpable for the crash, but referee Jim Lawrence took a different view and excluded Allen who was taken to Peterborough City Hospital.
Skipper Ulrich Ostergaard was perhaps fortunate to walk away from a later crash after suffering a broken chain while a third Panthers rider also hit the deck as Robert Lambert came down when leading heat nine on a tactical ride.
The teen sensation was able to quickly pick himself up to finish that race and also complete a top-scoring performance on a night when Panthers were beaten with two races to spare in this Premier League Cup clash.
“I wouldn’t wish the bad luck we’ve had so far this season on our worst enemies, let alone on ourselves,” admitted Panthers team boss Carl Johnson.
“I’ve never experienced anything like it, losing lost two riders to really bad injuries in the space of three meetings and also suffering two broken chains and a puncture tonight.
“It is a huge blow to lose a rider in Olly who is an out-and-out number one at this level. He was desperate to come back to Peterborough and for this to happen so early in the season is devastating.
“I felt the Rye House rider knew Olly was there and ran him into the fence. Did he give him enough racing room? I don’t know.
“Sadly it doesn’t look like it will be a short-term absence and it will be a case of having to take stock of the situation and look at the options open to us.
“But we also have to admit that the overall performance was nowhere near good enough. Losing one home meeting was unacceptable and to be beaten twice at the Showground in a week is disastrous despite the things that have gone against us.
“But we are not just going to just give up on the League Cup. You won’t find anyone here with a defeatist attitude.”
Panthers trailed throughout last night after Allen had been beaten by Robin Aspegren in the opening race.
They were particularly poor down at reserve where Ollie Greenwood and guest Simon Nielsen could contribute just four points from a combined total of 10 outings.
It was particularly frustrating to see Greenwood passed by rival reserve Kasper Lykke in similar fashion – around the outside after picking up drive in the dirt – on no fewer than three occasions.
Nielsen, borrowed for the night from Newcastle, was unfortunate in the second heat when a snapped chain forced his retirement from second spot when following partner Greenwood for what may have been a 5-1.
But after that the bottom-end duo struggled as did recent arrival Michael Palm Toft who had to limp round to collect a point in the re-run of heat six after suffering a puncture on the third lap.
Lambert, tactical mishap aside, and Ostergaard, heat 13 spill aside, were fine performers for Panthers and ensured the meeting finished with a flourish thanks to a 5-1 in the finale while Lewis Blackbird signed off with back-to-back wins for the second successive meeting.
But they couldn’t match Rye House who were a model of consistency as reflected by their scorecard.
No Rockets rider contributed more than eight points – a total managed by four different men – and none chipped in with less than the five belonging to Anders Mellgren.
Johnson added: “Losing Olly put extra pressure on the reserves as they had to take his two remaining rides.
“I think it got to them a bit and a few of the boys were over-riding. Once they relaxed a bit in the final two races we did a lot better, but the meeting was over by then.
“Rye House scored solidly and I did always have it in the back of my mind that they would be a threat to us.”
Panthers return to action on Good Friday with home and away East Anglian derby dates against Ipswich Witches.
PANTHERS: Robert Lambert 12+1, Ulrich Ostergaard 11+1, Lewis Blackbird 8, Michael Palm Toft 3, Ollie Greenwood 3, Olly Allen 2 (withdrawn) Simon Nielsen (guest) 1.
RYE HOUSE ROCKETS: Robin Aspegren 8+2, Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen 8+1, Sam Masters (guest) 8, Steve Boxall 8, Kasper Lykke 7+4, Luke Bowen 7+2, Anders Mellgren 5+2.
1 - Aspegren (60.9), Allen, Masters, Palm Toft. 2-4, 2-4.
2 - Greenwood (63.6), Bowen, Lykke, Nielsen (ret). 3-3, 5-7.
3 - Boxall (62.5), Blackbird, Lambert, Mellgren. 3-3, 8-10.
4 - Ostergaard (62.3), Jakobsen, Lykke, Greenwood. 3-3, 11-13.
5 - Lambert (60.3), Masters, Aspegren, Blackbird. 3-3, 14-16.
6 - re-run Busk Jakobsen (62.7), Bowen, Palm Toft, Allen (fell/exc). 1-5, 15-21.
7 - Ostergaard (62.6), Lykke, Mellgren, Greenwood. 3-3, 18-24.
8 - Aspegren (62.8), Lykke, Palm Toft, Nielsen. 1-5, 19-29.
9 – Blackbird (63.2), Bowen, Lambert (t/r), Busk Jakobsen (ret). 5-2, 24-31.
10 - Boxall (63.7), Mellgren, Palm Toft, Greenwood. 1-5, 25-36.
11 - Ostergaard (63.6), Masters, Aspegren, Greenwood. 3-3, 28-39.
12 - Lambert (63.4), Mellgren, Bowen, Nielsen. 3-3, 31-42.
13 - Masters (awarded), Busk Jakobsen, Nielsen, Ostergaard (fell/exc). 1-5, 32-47.
14 - Blackbird (63.2), Boxall, Lykke, Greenwood. 3-3, 35-50.
15 - Lambert, Ostergaard, Busk Jakobsen, Aspegren. 5-1, 40-51.