Peterborough Panthers took another step towards silverware last night (September 23) when building up a commanding advantage in their SGB Championship KO Cup quarter-final clash.
The city side beat Lakeside 52-38 at the East of England Arena in what became the opening leg of the last-eight showdown after the two sides’ scheduled meeting at the Hammers’ new Rye House base earlier in the day was postponed due to heavy rain.
Incredibly, given the comprehensive margin of victory, Panthers provided only six heat winners on their own shale, but five of those successes contributed to race advantages.
Half of the triumphs came from star turn Bradley Wilson-Dean, whose 12+1 haul was the best performance of his second spell as a Panthers rider.
Emil Grondal continued his impressive return to form by twice leading home guest number one Ben Barker for 5-1s during a paid 10-point outing while newly-married captain Simon Lambert took the flag in heat two when combining for a maximum return with reserve guest Jordan Stewart.
Perhaps even more significantly, Panthers only brought up the rear in three races as their scorecard was a picture of solidity from one to seven.
“We’ve started the job pretty well, but it is only half-time in the tie,” stressed team boss Carl Johnson.
“It was important to build up a good advantage and we managed to do that despite Lakeside having riders capable of scoring well at our track.
“They ensured there was some good racing for the crowd and we also showed that we are capable of getting points from all areas and in all races.
“Bradley has been fantastic lately and Emil showed he is well on the way back to his best as well. It’s great to have riders in form at the business end of the season like that.
“We always stress to the boys the importance of not running last places and to see so few of them on our scorecard is really pleasing.
“Of course we’d have liked a couple more points here and there, but I’m sure Lakeside would have wanted the gap to be a lot less.”
Three 5-1s in the opening six races allowed Panthers to build up a big lead, while a 4-2 in heat four provided one of only two gains for Lakeside.
Panthers man Ulrich Ostergaard was surprisingly stuck at the back in that race behind visiting reserve Alfie Bowtell, but the veteran Dane did get among the points in his remaining three riders to suggest he is slowly getting back into the groove following his two-month injury lay-off with broken ribs.
The second of Grondal and Barker’s 5-1s in heat 10 then stretched Panthers’ advantage to the final margin of 14 points with the teams trading 4-2s late on.
Wilson-Dean’s success and Lambert’s third place gave the hosts the edge in heat 12 but Lakeside replied when Adam Ellis completed a hat-trick of victories in heat 14 with hard-working Bowtell claiming third.
Wilson-Dean completed his stellar personal showing with victory in the finale when leaving Ellis and Lakeside number one Richard Lawson, who also won three races, trailing in his wake.
Panthers do battle with Lakeside again this weekend in the semi-finals of the SGB Championship Shield. The two clubs meet at Rye House on Saturday (September 29, 7pm) ahead of a Sunday (September 30) return clash at Alwalton (5pm).
Those clashes are ahead of another duel in the play-offs during the first weekend of October. No date has yet been agreed for the re-staging of yesterday’s postponed KO Cup leg.
PANTHERS: Bradley Wilson-Dean 12+1, Emil Grondal 9+1, Ben Barker (guest) 7+3, Simon Lambert 8, Michael Palm Toft 7+2, Jordan Stewart (guest) 5+2, Ulrich Ostergaard 4+2.
LAKESIDE: Adam Ellis 14, Richard Lawson 11+1, Aaron Summers (guest) 7, Alfie Bowtell 5, Broc Nicol (guest) 1, Ben Morley 0, Rider replacement for Kyle Newman.