Peterborough Panthers saw their unbeaten home record come to an end last night (May 13) . . . and they can’t say they weren’t warned.
Team boss Carl Johnson pointed out the need for improved performances despite his side reeling off four successive wins on their own East of England Arena shale.
But his men couldn’t rise to the challenge as they succumbed 47-43 to a Newcastle Diamonds side fired to victory by the scoring power of their top two riders.
Robert Lambert and Steve Worrall, who both went unbeaten until the final heat, were the star performers in a meeting which will live long in the memory despite the undesired scoreline.
A catalogue of cracking heats had a terrific crowd – boosted by many attending the MCN Festival of Motorcycling bash – on the edges of their seats.
“It was an absolutely fantastic meeting,” admitted team boss Carl Johnson. “But it obviously didn’t come with the result we wanted.
“We’re disappointed when we lose any meeting – regardless of whether it is at home or away – but we were beaten by the better team on the night.
“Newcastle had two quality performers in Robert and Steve, who scored the bulk of their points, and we couldn’t really live with them.
“We’ve got to draw a line under this result and make sure we bounce back against Berwick on Friday.”
From a super opening battle between the two Lamberts (Newcastle man Robert eventually forced his way past a returning to form Simon) in the opener to a sensational finale (in which Jack Holder lowered the colours of both previously unbeaten Diamonds), this was speedway of the highest quality.
Unfortunately for Panthers, they couldn’t provide enough race-winners (just six out of 15) or grab enough heat advantages (the hosts only recorded three gains all night).
There were positives though, not least reserve Tom Bacon’s first race success in Panthers’ colours.
He earned arguably the biggest cheer of the night when triumphing in heat two and was seriously unlucky not to add another point to his collection in heat 12 when being mugged for third spot by Lewis Rose in the final metres of the race.
The same Newcastle rider also snatched third from Simon Lambert in the closing stages of heat 10 – another valuable gain for the visitors and cruel blow for Panthers.
Lambert rode better than his 4+1 return suggests and the same applied to captain Ulrich Ostergaard, who ended with the same tally despite always being in the thick of the action.
Holder was the highest Panthers scorer with paid 10, while Bradley Wilson-Dean continued his fine form at reserve with nine despite finding himself stuck at the rear when Newcastle claimed what proved to be a crucial 5-1 in heat eight through guest James Shanes and former Peterborough man Ash Morris.
That effort put the Diamonds into a lead which they maintained at two points until Robert Lambert and Worrall banked a 5-1 over Holder in a thrilling heat 13.
Wilson-Dean then hugged the inside line to see off the fence-brushing Ludvig Lindgren as Panthers hit back with a 4-2 in the penultimate race to leave themselves requiring a 5-1 for a tie in the finale.
That didn’t look likely with Newcastle pair Robert Lambert and Worrall having been in such imperious form and, even though Holder zoomed past both to take the flag, his partner Paul Starke was stuck at the rear.
Panthers return to action when hosting Berwick at the East of England Arena on Friday (May 19). It’s the first of three meetings in as many days with a return clash 24 hours later and a May 21 visit to Newcastle then following.
PANTHERS: Jack Holder 9+1, Bradley Wilson-Dean 9, Paul Starke 8+1, Kenneth Hansen 6+2, Ulrich Ostergaard 4+1, Simon Lambert 4+1, Tom Bacon 3.
NEWCASTLE: Robert Lambert 14, Steve Worrall 12+2, James Shanes (guest) 8, Lewis Rose 6+2, Ludvig Lindgren 5, Ash Morris 2+1, Connor Coles 0.
1 - R. Lambert (61.2), S. Lambert, Holder, Morris. 3-3, 3-3.
2 - Bacon (61.9), Shanes, Wilson-Dean, Coles. 4-2, 7-5.
3 - Rose (62.0), Starke, Lindgren, Ostergaard. 2-4, 9-9.
4 - re-run Worrall (61.7), Hansen, Shanes, Bacon. 2-4, 11-13.
5 - R. Lambert (61.3), Ostergaard, Starke, Morris. 3-3, 14-16.
6 - Worrall (62.1), Holder, S. Lambert, Coles. 3-3, 17-19.
7 - Wilson-Dean (62.1), Hansen, Rose, Lindgren. 5-1, 22-20.
8 - Shanes (62.8), Morris, S. Lambert, Wilson-Dean. 1-5, 23-25.
9 - Worrall (62.4), Starke, Ostergaard, Coles. 3-3, 26-28.
10 - Holder (62.8), Lindgren, Rose, S. Lambert. 3-3, 29-31.
11 – re-run R. Lambert (63.5), Wilson-Dean, Hansen, Morris. 3-3, 32-34.
12 - Starke (63.6), Shanes, Rose, Bacon. 3-3, 35-37.
13 - R. Lambert (62.7), Worrall, Hansen, Holder. 1-5, 36-42.
14 - Wilson-Dean (63.4), Lindgren, Ostergaard, Shanes. 4-2, 40-44.
15 - Holder (63.1), R. Lambert, Worrall, Starke. 3-3, 43-47.