Saturday May 19, 2018
PETERBOROUGH maintained top spot in the Championship with a 49-41 win over Newcastle at the East of England Arena on Saturday.

There was some spectacular racing in front of a bumper crowd as part of the MCN Festival, with the T.Balfe Construction Panthers seeing off an initially stubborn challenge from the Diamonds to race to the league points.

Michael Palm Toft kept up his sparkling run of form, and both he and Scott Nicholls had only dropped one point prior to conceding a consolation 5-1 in Heat 15.

And there were solid returns right down the Panthers order, with the rider-replacement facility in operation for Nike Lunna who faces time out of the saddle with a broken ankle.

Panthers provided the first three race wins with Nicholls getting the better of Diamonds guest Jonas B Andersen after a hard-fought first lap of the opener.

Simon Lambert and Palm Toft added victories before impressive reserve Ashley Morris got the visitors on the board in Heat 4, rounding Ulrich Ostergaard at the end of lap one and then repeating the feat on Tom Bacon two laps later.

The Diamonds refused to buckle, with Panthers building a six point lead with another 4-2 from Nicholls and Emil Grondal in Heat 6 only for their opponents to respond through guest Jake Allen, with Matthew Wethers holding third place over Lambert.

Grondal swept round the field to win a competitive Heat 8 with Bacon holding a good line to defeat Andersen whilst also putting pressure on Morris.

The Diamonds’ tactical substitute ride for skipper Ludvig Lindgren in Heat 9 resulted in only a 3-3 after Lambert had come to grief on turn two, with Palm Toft winning the re-run.

But a stunning Heat 10 saw Newcastle again reduce the deficit to four, as Allen somehow squeezed to the front in a close contest with Nicholls, who then re-passed Wethers for second.

However, Panthers took control immediately after the interval with the first 5-1 of the night in a classic Heat 11 as Ostergaard raced clear ahead of a ding-dong scrap for second between Lambert and Morris, with the Panthers skipper coming out on top after numerous re-passes.

Palm Toft took Heat 12 to end Allen’s run of two successive victories, and Panthers’ points were safe in the next thanks to a convincing 5-1 from Ostergaard and Nicholls.

More good action followed in Heat 14 with initial leader Lambert going to the back on turn four, whilst Palm Toft reeled in and rounded Wethers going into lap three.

The Newcastle consolation in the last race came courtesy of their best two riders on the night, Allen and Morris, with a close contest on turn three and four seeing Allen emerge ahead of Nicholls to join his partner for a 5-1, although the overall outcome was unaffected.

Panthers boss Carl Johnson said: “It was a good win, we knew it was going to be hard but we managed to edge it over those final four or five races.

“They had a good guest in Jake Allen, who was flying, and Ashley Morris put in a really good performance for them, so with those two boys scoring big it was tough for us.

“We’ve started slowly in a lot of meetings, which is something we’ve got to sort out, but it’s another three points which is good for us with the little break to come, and that stands us in good stead.

“Once we can get everybody going, we will hopefully be hard to beat at home, and we are good on the road. Michael is working his magic now, and also it looks like Simon has turned the corner a bit tonight, which is pleasing to see.

“From an outsider’s point of view, I think the racing was fantastic. There were probably a lot of first-time speedway visitors here tonight, and hopefully they’ll also now go back to the tracks local to them.

“It was a good advert for speedway, which it always is here – it’s a fantastic race-track, and it just showcases how good the sport can be.”

Panthers head the league table by three points from Berwick, but are now inactive until June 8 when they travel to Glasgow before hosting the Tigers on Sunday June 10.

PETERBOROUGH 49: Michael Palm Toft 15, Scott Nicholls 10+1, Ulrich Ostergaard 9+1, Simon Lambert 6+2, Emil Grondal 6, Tom Bacon 3, Nike Lunna r/r.
NEWCASTLE 41: Ashley Morris 13+2, Jake Allen 13, Matthew Wethers 5, Carl Wilkinson 4+2, Ludvig Lindgren 4+1, Jonas B Andersen 2, Tero Aarnio r/r.

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