REPORT: REDCAR 45, PANTHERS 45: City side drop a point after titanic tussle
Team boss Carl Johnson reckons it was a case of one point dropped rather than two gained for Peterborough Panthers last night.
The city side were involved in a thrilling 45-45 draw at frequent opponents Redcar in the SGB Championship.
And while the deadlock extended his men’s unbeaten record against the Bears this term to five meetings, Johnson was quick to admit this meeting should have ended in the same way as the previous four . . . with a Panthers win!
They were four points up with three races to go and looked set to increase that cushion as number one Jack Holder led the way in heat 13.
But a rare slip from the Australian star proved costly as he briefly lost control to allow home rider Charles Wright past for victory – turning a 4-2 which would have put Panthers six points clear into a 3-3.
And there was further disappointment when captain Ulrich Ostergaard crashed out of the penultimate race, leaving Redcar pair Tobias Busch and Jonas B. Andersen to claim a 5-1 in the re-run to restore parity after his exclusion.
And that’s how it stayed after a finale in which Holder blazed clear only for partner Paul Starke to be stuck at the rear as he tried in vain to force his way past Redcar duo Wright and Ben Barker.
“We should have won the meeting – simple as that,” said Johnson. “We were in the position to do it, but we gave it away.
“A couple of mistakes at key moments ended up costing us a victory and that’s a shame as we’re in a position where every point counts.
“Under most circumstances it would be a pleasing draw away to a very good Redcar side, but it’s a win that got away as far as I’m concerned.
“It does at least keep out points tally ticking over and that’s important as we try to keep ourselves in the play-off hunt.”
The two teams were never split by more than four points during a tight tussle on Teesside in which the lead changed hands on several occasion.
Guest Nike Lunna’s success in the opener inspired a 4-2 for Panthers, but Redcar responded with a couple of their own in heats three and four – Starke excluded for tumbling out of the first of those.
Holder and Lunna, who was an excellent stand-in for unavailable Bradley Wilson-Dean, slammed in a 5-1 in the fifth contest to open up a two-point lead that Panthers retained until being on the receiving end of a full house from home pair Ben Barker and Andersen in heat nine.
The city men replied impressively and immediately as Starke led home Ostergaard for a 5-1 of their own in the next race before a Holder-inspired 4-2 in heat 11 stretched the advantage to four points.
But that was wiped out in the penultimate contest after Ostergaard hit the deck and parity remained as Holder completed another top-scoring haul by winning a fine finale.
Despite gaining two points on their travels, Panthers were cast further adrift of the play-off places by a home victory for Sheffield against Workington.
They now trail the fourth-placed Steel City side by 10 points, but can eat into it by beating Redcar at the East of England Arena on Sunday (5pm).
Before then main men, Holder and Chris Harris, challenge for trophy glory tonight (July 21) in the SGB Championship Pairs at Somerset.
REDCAR: Charles Wright 11+1, Ben Barker 11, Ellis Perks 6+1, Jonas B Andersen 5+2, Tobias Busch 5+2, Danny Ayres 4+1, Jason Garrity 3
PANTHERS: Jack Holder 12, Nike Lunna (guest) 8+1, Ulrich Ostergaard 8, Richie Worrall (guest) 7+1, Tom Bacon 5+1, Paul Starke 5+1, Simon Lambert 0