Team boss Carl Johnson defended Peterborough Panthers’ decision to allow Jack Holder to race in Poland again yesterday (August 20) – after the city side were beaten without him.
Panthers – also missing Great Britain star Chris Harris due to a World Long Track Championship round - slipped to a fourth successive SGB Championship defeat when going down 53-37 at strugglers Scunthorpe.
Despite the absence of their top duo, they looked set to challenge for victory when only two points down with four races to go at the Eddie Wright Raceway.
But they were blown away in the closing stages as a 4-2 followed by a hat-trick of 5-1s ensured the Scorpions really did provide a sting in the tail.
Johnson said: “We have said all along it was the right decision for the club and for the rider to let Jack race in Poland on the last three Sundays. Our opinion has not changed on that.
“I don’t think we would have got anything up at Newcastle the previous Sunday even with Jack in the side as we were so depleted by injuries.
“He probably would have made a difference at Scunthorpe, but it was a meeting we should have really taken points from without him.
“We were well in contention for the vast majority of it, but we lost our way late on.
“Scunthorpe were better out of the gates than our boys in the final few races and they got the results to win the meeting. We can’t really have any complaints.”
Johnson could have been forgiven for having a sense of déjà vu yesterday given Panthers also suffered a late collapse at Scunthorpe two years ago.
They saw an eight-point advantage turn into a four-point defeat in July, 2015 thanks to a hat-trick of 5-1s from their hosts in the last three races.
And while they weren’t in anywhere near as commanding a position on this occasion, it was still just as frustrating for Panthers to depart empty-handed.
They also hit the road with a couple of injury concerns. Simon Lambert was complaining of wrist pain following his final ride and Bradley Wilson-Dean may have aggravated a hand problem in a heat 14 spill.
Captain Ulrich Ostergaard and Paul Starke top-scored for Panthers with eight points apiece, while guest number one Thomas Jorgensen managed seven.
Panthers were only entitled to draft in a National League rider to guest to deputise for Holder and Connor Coles predictably struggled when scoring a blank.
SCUNTHORPE: Josh Auty 17, Ryan Douglas 13+1, Lewis Kerr 9+1, Michael Palm Toft 6+1, Tero Aarnio 5+3, Josh Bailey 3, Rider replacement for Jake Allen.
PANTHERS: Paul Starke 8, Ulrich Ostergaard 8, Thomas Jorgensen (guest) 7, Simon Lambert 6+1, Tom Bacon 4+3, Bradley Wilson-Dean 4+1, Connor Coles (guest) 0.
* Holder was in fine form in Poland where he set a new track record at the Motoarena Torun venue when helping his Torun side to victory against Grudziadz with paid 11 points.
* Harris finished fifth in the fourth round of the World Long Track Championship in Holland. He brought up the rear in the final at Eenrum.