PANTHERS 48 SCUNTHORPE 42

Friday July 13, 2018
PETERBOROUGH remain in pole position for the Championship play-offs following a hard-fought 48-42 win over Scunthorpe on Friday.

The T.Balfe Construction Panthers are still four points clear at the top of the table, with second-placed Lakeside also successful at home against Sheffield, and they now have a 13-point margin on the teams outside the top four.

The hosts led all the way on Friday but could never entirely put the Scorpions to bed, despite opening the meeting with successive 5-1s.

Michael Palm Toft eased the tension of a possible Scunthorpe fightback by securing the victory in Heat 14 after Ulrich Ostergaard had crashed out in the previous race – but although MPT also won the finale, Scorpions duo Josh Auty and Steve Worrall did enough to secure their side a deserved league point.

Panthers got off to a flyer with skipper Simon Lambert partnering Scott Nicholls to an opening-race 5-1 over a strong Scorpions pairing of Worrall and Aaron Summers – and Tom Bacon and the returning Emil Grondal repeated the feat in the next.

Scunthorpe quickly hit back through Summers and the impressive Jake Allen in a re-started Heat 3 after Panthers initially seemed to have the advantage, and the next two races were shared with Auty getting the better of Ostergaard in Heat 4, before Palm Toft headed Worrall in Heat 5 with Bradley Wilson-Dean missing out for the second time.

Lambert made it two unbeaten rides by taking charge of Heat 6 over Auty, with Nicholls’ third place putting Panthers six points to the good.

But Summers and Allen again launched the Scorpions comeback with another 5-1 in the next, Allen passing Ostergaard for second place.

A hard-fought Heat 8 saw Lambert lose his unbeaten tag to Auty after some forceful defence from the Scunthorpe man – but Wilson-Dean recovered from two point-less outings to partner Palm Toft to a big 5-1 over Auty in the next to rebuild a six-point margin.

With Nicholls winning a shared Heat 10, the Scorpions deployed Allen for a tactical substitute ride in the eleventh alongside Worrall – but it was Ostergaard on top with a super effort around the outside to negate the Scorpions’ switch.

Wilson-Dean and Bacon took Panthers closer to victory with a 4-2 in Heat 12, but then came Ostegraard’s spill in the next – and in a similar area to his horror crash against Ipswich, as he clipped the fence just off turn four and came to grief on the straight.

This time, thankfully, the Dane was able to walk into the ambulance albeit in some discomfort, and a 5-1 from Auty and Worrall over Nicholls in the re-run suddenly gave Panthers a match to win again with the scores at 41-37.

Palm Toft, though, dominated the closing stages and with Grondal third in Heat 14 it was enough to make sure of victory, before Worrall held Wilson-Dean at bay for third place in the finale as the Scorpions made their league point.

Panthers boss Carl Johnson said: “It’s another good three points. I didn’t mind them taking a point – when you look at their line-up, they were always going to trouble us, and I’m happy with the three points.

“Everybody has done their bit, which is pleasing, and it was another cracking performance from Michael with the others all backing him up.

“We led from start to finish and it’s another one ticked off. We’re putting ourselves in a good position with every meeting, which is really good for us.

“Ulrich is complaining about the left side of his back, his ribs and he’s hurt his shoulder, so it’s basically the same area that he hurt a few weeks back, which is a little concerning because he may have done some more damage there, and we’ll just have to wait and see on that.”

Panthers are back in action at the East of England Arena on Sunday when they take on Sheffield (5pm). Ostergaard has been ruled out of that match following his Friday spill – full team news to follow on Saturday.

PETERBOROUGH 48: Michael Palm Toft 12+1, Scott Nicholls 8, Tom Bacon 7+1, Simon Lambert 6+2, Bradley Wilson-Dean 6, Ulrich Ostergaard 6, Emil Grondal 3+1.
SCUNTHORPE 42: Josh Auty 14, Jake Allen 12+2, Aaron Summers 9+2, Steve Worrall 6+3, Danny Phillips 1, Gino Manzares 0, Stefan Nielsen r/r.

Picture: CHLOE MAY COLES

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