PANTHERS 44 COVENTRY 49

Monday September 20, 2010
PETERBOROUGH crashed out of the Elite League play-offs after being totally outclassed by the Coventry Bees.

The Panthers, 14 points adrift after the first-leg, were abject, whilst their opponents continued a stunning run of victories that has seen them win twice at the Showground.

A lot of the pre-meeting talk was about the state of the Alwalton track, and it was visibly clear that the visiting side were happy to see plenty of dirt on the circuit.

The meeting got off to a bad start for the Panthers, when Krzysztof Kasprzak raced to a storming victory in Heat one, breaking Kenneth Bjerre’s track record in the process. Bjerre languished at the back, whilst Krzysztof Buczkowski did everything he could to try and keep up with his countryman at the front.

Mat Tresarrieu came to grief in Heat two, giving Norbert Kosciuch the chance to make up for a poor start first time round and seal an impressive early win.

The next three heats all but killed the tie, with Coventry showing the form that has seen them torment teams for the past month. First Ben Barker and Edward Kennett teamed up for a 4-2, before Chris Harris produced a stunning ride to pass Kosciuch on the line in Heat four.

The Bees showed their strength in depth when Richard Sweetman, fifth in the official team averages, raced to an easy Heat five win, being joined at the front by his team-mate Kasprzak. That put the Panthers 10 points down on the night and 24 down overall, already making qualification to the final nigh on impossible.

Two shared heats followed, before the excellent Buczkowski gave the home fans something to cheer when he teamed up with fellow Pole Kosciuch for a 7-2 advantage, Buczek gaining six points.

Heat nine proved to be the most controversial of the night, with referee Jim Lawrence angering the Peterborough camp with what looked to be an awful decision.

Rory Schlein, leading the race, got slightly out of shape when Chris Harris fell behind him, completely on his own. Not one person at the Showground could have predicted the referee’s decision, with the unlucky Schlein deemed to be at fault.

He was disqualified from the re-run, and even Harris admitted that he may have got lucky with the decision. Despite the protests of both Schlein and team manager Trevor Swales, the referee refused to reverse his decision, even with the benefit of television replays.

An almost impossible task got even harder after that decision, although Niels-Kristian Iversen won the re-run superbly to make sure that the away side didn’t add insult to injury.

Buczkowski, who was fantastic all evening, again showed his teammates the way forward when he raced to a marvellous win over Barker and Kennett, but another last place for the Peterborough number one meant that the Bees were a second place away from the final.

Kasprzak, runner-up in the weekend’s Polish Championship Final, looked like he would be the man to win it for the Midlands side, until he ran into the bend two airfence and destroyed the fence panels in the process.

Kasprzak was disqualified, and some sterling work from the Peterborough track staff meant that the barrier was once again fit-for-purpose. With Sweetman knowing that a second-place would be enough, the Birmingham man went out to finish the job off for his side and he did so emphatically, winning the race by half a straight.

What followed was irrelevant, with the Bees already through to the final. However, the next four heats yielded a 5-1 for each side and two 3-3’s, giving the Bees a win on the night as well as on aggregate.

Panthers team boss Trevor Swales was gracious in defeat, saying: “To be honest, we were just beaten by the better side. Coventry were the better team over both legs and we just weren’t good enough.

“I feel sorry for the fans, because they have stuck by us all season and we have just thrown it away. I feel for the fans, I feel for Rick and Julie, I feel for the staff here, everyone... because we have thrown away a whole season’s worth of effort. I’m disappointed in the boys, because some of them didn’t have the will tonight. I don’t care what they say about the track, you have to get on and ride it.

“They had the wrong attitude; and they beat themselves at five o’clock, when they saw the track. The Coventry boys looked at it and were up for it, our lads weren’t. That’s not good enough.”

PETERBOROUGH 44 (Kenneth Bjerre 1:1 (0-1:1-0-0), Krzysztof Buczkowski 14:1 (2-2-6-3-1:1), Rory Schlein 3 (0-0-FD-3), Niels-Kristian Iversen 9 (2-1-3-1-2), Troy Batchelor 8 (0-3-2-3), Mathieu Tresarrieu 0 (FD-F-0), Norbert Kosciuch 9:2 (3-2-1-1:1-2:1)

COVENTRY 49 (Krzysztof Kasprzak 6:2 (3-2:1-FD-1:1), Richard Sweetman 7 (1-3-M-3), Ben Barker 7:1 (3-2-1:1-1-F), Edward Kennett 6:2 (1-1:1-2-2:1), Chris Harris 13 (-3-3-2-2-3), Lewis Bridger 5 (2-0-0-3), Przemyslaw Pawlicki 5:2 (1:1-1-2-1:1-FD)

Heat 1: Kasprzak, Buczkowski, Sweetman, Bjerre, 2-4.
Heat 2: Kosciuch, Bridger, Pawlicki, Tresarrieu, fell, disqualified, 3-3.
Heat 3: Barker, Iversen, Kennett, Schlein, 2-4.
Heat 4: Harris, Kosciuch, Pawlicki, Batchelor, 2-4.
Heat 5: Sweetman, Kasprzak, Iversen, Schlein, 1-5.
Heat 6: Harris, Buczkowski, Bjerre, Bridger, 3-3.
Heat 7: Batchelor, Barker, Kennett, Tresarrieu, fell, 3-3.
Heat 8: Buczkowski (TR), Pawlicki, Kosciuch, Bridger, Sweetman, disqualified, two minutes, 7-2.
Heat 9: Iversen, Harris, Pawlicki, Schlein, disqualified, 3-3.
Heat 10: Buczkowski, Kennett, Barker, Bjerre, 3-3.
Heat 11: Sweetman, Batchelor, Kosciuch, Kasprzak, fell, disqualified, 3-3.
Heat 12: Schlein, Kosciuch, Barker, Pawlicki, fell, disqualified, 5-1.
Heat 13: Batchelor, Harris, Kasprzak, Bjerre, 3-3.
Heat 14: Bridger, Kennett, Iversen, Tresarrieu, 1-5.
Heat 15: Harris, Iversen, Buczkowski, Barker, 3-3.

Report: JOSH GUDGEON.


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