Peterborough Panthers displayed no shortage of character and class as they refused to give up on their unbeaten start to the Premier League season last night (May 29).
The city racers found themselves in trouble against Berwick after falling eight points adrift after just three races at the East of England Showground.
But they roared back to claim a 51-39 success on another night of top-class racing at the Alwalton venue with Michael Palm Toft assuming the role of chief entertainer thanks to a series of stunning charges from the back.
Palm Toft starred in a run of three 5-1s in the space of four races which turned the tide Panthers’ way before clinching their latest victory with a spectacular ride in the penultimate contest.
“It just highlights the winning mentality we have,” said team boss Carl Johnson. “The boys knew they were not good enough in the early races, but they got it sorted to pick up another important result.
“We are all very proud of our unbeaten record and we are not going to let it go without a fight.”
Few could have confidently predicted another success during such a poor start from Panthers, who were missing injured Lewis Blackbird.
Berwick claimed advantages in the opening three races with a pair of 4-2s sandwiching a 5-1 from Richard Hall and Alex Edberg in the reserves’ outing.
Hall, an Elite League title hero for Panthers back in 2006 before enduring a miserable return to the club during last season, took the flag again in a shared fourth heat before the hosts finally woke up.
Palm Toft delivered super surges to follow in captain Ulrich Ostergaard and guest number one Lasse Bjerre for back-to-back 5-1s before another maximum followed in heat eight.
And that proved to be a decisive moment in the meeting. While Panthers were hitting the front for the first time to complete a rapid turnaround, Berwick lost the services of their high-scoring trump card Hall.
He hit the deck on the final lap when still involved in a race-long scrap for supremacy with Simon Lambert – a spill which left him concussed and out of the meeting, and allowed Robert Lambert to follow in his namesake for a Panthers maximum.
A couple of 4-2s inspired by back-on-song captain Ulrich Ostergaard (who suffered only one defeat to an opponent all night) edged Panthers further clear before Palm Toft wrapped up victory with a race to spare.
And he could hardly have done it in any more exhilarating style as he surged from last to first with another expert individual ride.
First he had to negotiate struggling partner Ollie Greenwood before darting past Edberg and finally breezing around Berwick captain Kevin Doolan on the final lap.
“I just wish I could make a start,” quipped the Dane on the tannoy afterwards. Safe to say there are plenty of supporters happy he can’t!
They home fans were in for one final treat as their top-scoring duo of Robert Lambert and Ostergaard powered to a 5-1 in the finale to provide a final margin of victory that was probably slightly flattering in all honesty.
But that matters not. It is three more points in the Premier League bag for a team whose unbeaten run now stands at six league meetings.
They have almost two weeks to wait for their next outing. That is an East Anglian derby date against Ipswich on Friday, June 12.
PANTHERS: Robert Lambert 15+1, Ulrich Ostergaard 13+1, Michael Palm Toft 8+2, Lasse Bjerre 7+1, Simon Lambert 7+1, Ollie Greenwood 1, Rider replacement for Lewis Blackbird.
BERWICK: Ben Barker 11, Kevin Doolan 11, Richard Hall 7+1 (withdrawn), Alex Edberg 4+2, Ryan Fisher (guest) 3+1, Jan Graversen (guest) 3+1, Rider replacement for Thomas Jorgensen.
1 - Barker (60.7), S. Lambert, Graversen, Bjerre. 2-4, 2-4.
2 - Hall (62.2), Edberg, Greenwood, S. Lambert. 1-5, 3-9.
3 - Doolan (61.8), Ostergaard, Barker, Palm Toft. 2-4, 5-13.
4 - Hall (61.9), R. Lambert, S. Lambert, Fisher (ret). 3-3, 8-16.
5 - Ostergaard (61.3), Palm Toft, Barker, Graversen. 5-1, 13-17.
6 - re-run x2 Bjerre (62.4), Palm Toft, Edberg, Fisher (fell/exc). 5-1, 18-18.
7 - R. Lambert (60.8), Doolan, Hall, Greenwood. 3-3, 21-21.
8 - S. Lambert (62.8), R. Lambert, Graversen, Hall (fell). 5-1, 26-22.
9 - Ostergaard (62.4), Fisher, Palm Toft, Edberg. 4-2, 30-24.
10 - Bjerre (62.2), Doolan, Fisher, S. Lambert. 3-3, 33-27.
11 - R. Lambert (61.9), Barker, Graversen, Greenwood. 3-3, 36-30.
12 - Ostergaard (62.7), Doolan, S. Lambert, Edberg. 4-2, 40-32.
13 - Barker (62.0), R. Lambert, Bjerre, Fisher. 3-3, 43-35.
14 - Palm Toft (63.4), Doolan, Edberg, Greenwood. 3-3, 46-38.
15 - R. Lambert (62.4), Ostergaard, Barker, Doolan. 5-1, 51-39.