Night to remember for Nicholls, but one to forget for Peterborough Panthers

Scott Nicholls scored 17 + 1 pts for Panthers in Berwick.
Scott Nicholls scored 17 + 1 pts for Panthers in Berwick.
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Number one Scott Nicholls provided a performance to remember on a Saturday night (August 18) to forget for Peterborough Panthers.

The city club’s proud record of collecting at least one league point from all five previous SGB Championship outings on the road was brought to an abrupt halt by a 55-35 drubbing at Berwick.

Panthers rider Bradley Wilson-Dean suffered a spill in Berwick.

Panthers rider Bradley Wilson-Dean suffered a spill in Berwick.

Star man Nicholls produced a stunning, six ride, 17+1-point paid maximum as he was responsible for almost half of table-topping Panthers’ overall total.

But little else went right as middle-order duo Michael Palm Toft and Bradley Wilson-Dean were both hurt in spills during the Shielfield Park defeat.

Wilson-Dean hit the deck in his opening outing in heat three and completed only two more rides while Palm Toft was clipped by home rider David Howe after losing control on the opening lap of heat seven.

Palm Toft had earlier been one of only two Panthers riders other than Nicholls to claim a victory. He took the chequered flag in the re-run of the third race following Wilson-Dean’s spill and exclusion, while captain Simon Lambert led home Nicholls for a 5-1 in heat five.

That effort pulled Panthers back to within two points of their hosts, but they were cast adrift by three successive maximum gains from the Bandits.

Nicholls made the most of a tactical substitute opportunity in heat nine when combining with guest Paul Starke for another Panthers’ 5-1, but Berwick slammed in three more during the remaining races to emerge as emphatic winners.

Victories for Nicholls in a shared heat 11 and heat 15 and when inspiring a 4-2 in heat 13 were the only bright spots for Panthers in the latter stages.

Panthers team boss Carl Johnson admitted: “There are no excuses – it was simply a case of us being beaten by a better side.

“Scott’s performance was nothing short of exceptional and the fact it has been so long since he last raced at Berwick made it even better.

“But it was a night to put behind us with the rest of the boys not able to give him the support that was needed.

“Bradley and Michael both being involved in crashes certainly didn’t help, but I’m hoping they are okay for tomorrow.”

Panthers have a quick opportunity to return to form when travelling to Newcastle tonight (August 19, 6.30pm).

Glasgow man Starke again stands in for the injured Ulrich Ostergaard.

SCORES

BERWICK: Nikolaj Busk Jakobsen 12+2, Theo Pijper 9+2, Aaron Summers 9+2, Kevin Doolan 8+2, Jye Etheridge 7, David Howe 6+2, Dany Gappmaier 4+1.

PANTHERS: Scott Nicholls 17+1, Paul Starke (guest) 5+1, Simon Lambert 4, Michael Palm Toft 4, Emil Grondal 3, Bradley Wilson-Dean 1, Tom Bacon 1.

* Panthers have turned down the chance to race at play-off rivals Lakeside on Friday, August 31.

The Hammers offered that date after the two clubs’ scheduled clash earlier this month was postponed due to bad weather, but Panthers have declined due to ‘poor rider availability’.