Friday April 06, 2018
PETERBOROUGH’S early-season winning run came to an end as they went down 50-40 at Lakeside in the Championship Shield on Friday.

But there were still plenty more encouraging signs from the T.Balfe Construction Panthers, who took the Hammers right down to the wire in the race for a point from the meeting.

And for the second night running on an away track, Panthers’ solidarity was such that they prevented the hosts from recording a single 5-1 race advantage.

On this occasion, though, Lakeside provided the bulk of race wins with Panthers limited to four successes on the night.

Two of them came from Ulrich Ostergaard, who continued his excellent run with victories over the Hammers’ top two of Richard Lawson and Nick Morris in his opening two outings.

There was also a Heat 8 success for fellow Dane Emil Grondal, for whom the Purfleet circuit was a real learning curve, and Nike Lunna worked hard for a paid-nine return including a smart ride to pass Kyle Newman and win Heat 3.

Panthers never led on the night with the Hammers taking the first of six 4-2s in Heat 1 as Morris got the better of Scott Nicholls, but Ostergaard’s win with skipper Simon Lambert third in Heat 4 levelled the scores.

Newman passed Grondal for the odd point in Heat 5 with Adam Ellis up-front to restore the Hammers’ narrow advantage, and three shared heats followed with the Panthers defending strongly.

Lakeside began to stretch their advantage with 4-2s in Heats 9 and 10 to go six-up, and a share in Heat 11 behind Lawson prompted Panthers to deploy the tactical substitute facility in the next with Nicholls replacing reserve Tom Bacon.

But the Hammers prevented major damage as Ellis got out ahead of Nicholls and Lunna for another 3-3, and a big scrap for second and third spots in the next ended with Lawson pinching a point from Nicholls on lap three to put the hosts eight-up.

That became ten with Zach Wajtknecht winning Heat 14 as Lambert came to grief, and it left Panthers needing a 5-1 from the final race to snatch a point.

But although Lawson was kept at the back on this occasion by Ostergaard and Nicholls, they were unable to stop Morris who completed a 14-point personal haul up-front.

Panthers promoter Ged Rathbone said: “It’s disappointing not to come back with anything, but to lose by ten at Lakeside was still a good effort I feel, and we’re quite happy with what we’ve done this week.

“We were chasing the meeting all along and one or two riders had never seen this track before – and there were also a few who hadn’t been here, to what is a very tricky track, for a long time.

“Nike was certainly on the pace, Tofty did struggle a bit with the set-up and he couldn’t get out of the gate, whilst Emil has never seen the place and in all of his races he was competitive. He just made a few mistakes which cost him points, but he was learning throughout.

“We took it down to the last three races, we were there or thereabouts, so it’s a bit frustrating not to take at least a point, but the pressure is still going to be on Lakeside to get a result at Ipswich – and of course Ipswich will be determined not to lose two home meetings.

“Everything is still positive and we just have to make sure we get the job done when the re-arranged Ipswich home meeting happens.

“We work as a team and we fought all the way to the end on Friday. We were trying all we could to get the 5-1 in the last race, and that’s all we can ask of the lads.”

With a re-staging date awaited for the home Shield clash with Ipswich, Panthers turn their attention to Championship business next week as they visit title holders Sheffield on Thursday before hosting Redcar next Sunday (April 15).

LAKESIDE 50: Nick Morris 14, Richard Lawson 9, Adam Ellis 8, Zach Wajtknecht 8, Kyle Newman 7, Ben Morley 4+2, Alfie Bowtell 0
PETERBOROUGH 40: Ulrich Ostergaard 12, Scott Nicholls 9+1, Nike Lunna 7+2, Emil Grondal 4+1, Michael Palm Toft 4, Simon Lambert 3, Tom Bacon 1+1
Championship Shield points: Lakeside 3 Peterborough 0

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