One win, one defeat, but a very satisfactory night’s work from Peterborough Panthers

Michael Palm Toft enjoyed a solid night for Panthers at Lakeside.
Michael Palm Toft enjoyed a solid night for Panthers at Lakeside.
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Peterborough Panthers owner Ged Rathbone declared himself happy with his side’s work on a marathon Saturday (September 29) night of speedway.

The city team clinched their place in the semi-finals of the SGB Championship KO Cup by completing a smooth aggregate victory against Lakeside.

There was a welcome return to form at Lakeside for Panthers man Ulrich Ostergaard.

There was a welcome return to form at Lakeside for Panthers man Ulrich Ostergaard.

Panthers boasted a 14-point cushion following the first leg last weekend and were beaten 40-38 in the second leg at the Hammers’ new Rye House home in a meeting which was abandoned as soon as their passage was ensured due to a track curfew.

And Panthers are in contention to reach the final of the SGB Championship Shield following a 50-40 defeat against Lakeside in the first leg earlier in the evening.

Rathbone said: “We’re happy with our night’s work.

“We were unlucky not to keep things closer in the first meeting and I think we could probably have won the second meeting was it not halted after heat 13.

“Defending the KO Cup is a big priority for us after winning it last season and we’re thrilled to be through to the semi-finals.

“It was great to see such a huge following of Panthers fans at Rye House and they gave us fantastic support all night.”

Reserve guest James Sarjeant was a top performer for Panthers. He led the way with paid 13 in the Shield semi before contributing a valuable eight points in the KO Cup quarter-final.

Michael Palm Toft also excelled in both meetings while Emil Grondal and guest number one Tero Aarnio delivered a pair of solid scores apiece.

The return to form of Ulrich Ostergaard following his injury lay-off – he scored a dozen points across the two meetings – was also a source of encouragement.

Panthers were behind throughout a Shield semi-final which was book-ended by 5-1s from the home side.

They also trailed immediately in the KO Cup clash which got off to a farcical start with the Panthers camp unaware of the meeting’s start time.

They were left with only one rider – reserve Simon Lambert – in the opening heat after Grondal failed to arrive at the tapes within the two minutes and Aarnio then experienced mechanical issues ahead of the re-run.

Panthers responded brilliantly with a 5-1 from Sarjeant and Lambert in the next race and their aggregate cushion never came under serious threat.

Lakeside claimed 5-1s – both led by reserve Alfie Bowtell – in heats eight and 12 to cut their arrears on aggregate to eight points, but a full house from Aarnio and Palm Toft in the 13th contest sealed Panthers’ passage.

That proved to be the final instalment of a long night, but the teams do battle again today (September 30) as Panthers host Lakeside in the Shield second leg at the East of England Arena (5pm).

The city men draft in Thomas Jorgensen (Redcar) and Carl Wilkinson (Newcastle) as guests at number one and reserve respectively, while Lakeside call in three borrowed riders with Zach Wajtknecht injured and Ben Morley and Bowtell involved in the National League Riders’ Championship at Leicester earlier in the day.

Edinburgh man Josh Pickering, who usually rides well at Alwalton, replaces Morley. Sheffield rider Kasper Andersen and National League man Jason Edwards form a new-look reserve combination for the Hammers who ‘used the rulebook very cleverly’ according to Rathbone.

He added: “We had an e-mail from them stating they wouldn’t accept this meeting without Ben and Alfie, but clearly because those two riders didn’t have the best of meetings at our place last Sunday their mindset has changed.

“We’re still on for a quadruple and they are obviously going to be all-out to defend their lead. I expect plenty of fun and games – there was certainly some of that from them last night . . . and I’m sure we’ll have some for them!”

SATURDAY SCORES

SGB CHAMPIONSHIP SHIELD

Semi-final, first leg

Lakeside 50: Nick Morris 14, Richard Lawson 11+1, Alfie Bowtell 10+2, Adam Ellis 6+1, Kyle Newman 5+1, Ben Morley 3+2, Broc Nicol 1.

Panthers 40: James Sarjeant (guest) 11+2, Michael Palm Toft 8, Ulrich Ostergaard 7, Emil Grondal 6+3, Tero Aarnio (guest) 6, Simon Lambert 2, Rider replacement for Bradley Wilson-Dean.

SGB CHAMPIONSHIP KO CUP

Quarter-final, second leg

Lakeside 40: Adam Ellis 11+1, Richard Lawson 8, Nick Morris 8, Alfie Bowtell 7+1, Ben Morley 5+1, Broc Nicol 1, Kyle Newman 0.

Panthers 38: Michael Palm Toft 9+1, James Sarjeant (guest) 8, Emil Grondal 7, Tero Aarnio (guest) 6+1, Ulrich Ostergaard 5+1, Simon Lambert 3+2, Rider replacement for Bradley Wilson-Dean.

* Abandoned after 13 heats due to track curfew – Panthers win 90-78 on aggregate.

SUNDAY TEAMS

PANTHERS: Thomas Jorgensen (guest), Rider replacement for Bradley Wilson-Dean, Emil Grondal, Ulrich Ostergaard, Michael Palm Toft, Carl Wilkinson (guest), Simon Lambert.

LAKESIDE: Richard Lawson, Josh Pickering (guest), Adam Ellis, Kyle Newman, Nick Morris, Kasper Andersen (guest), Jason Edwards (guest).