Saturday September 15, 2018
BRILLIANT Peterborough secured top spot in the Championship ahead of the play-offs with a 50-40 win over Lakeside at Rye House on Saturday.

The T.Balfe Construction Panthers raced to their fourth away win of the season and will now have first choice of opponents in the title shoot-out.

A strong all-round performance saw Panthers inflict the Hammers’ first ‘home’ defeat of the campaign on the opening night at their new Hoddesdon base in the second half of a double header.

The first meeting had seen Lakeside confirm their own play-off place by defeating Newcastle 48-42, so the play-off quartet is confirmed as Panthers, Glasgow, Workington and Lakeside.

Nick Morris scored an 18-point maximum for the home side but several of the Panthers showed their liking for a circuit they will pay at least two more visits to in the near future.

They hit the ground running with 5-1s in Heats 1 and 3, Emil Grondal and Ben Barker racing to maximum points over Richard Lawson in the first race whilst Michael Palm Toft and Bradley Wilson-Dean recorded their own success in the third.

A trading of 5-1s followed with the Hammers getting the gap back to four points, Grondal and Barker combining again in Heat 5 after Adam Ellis was penalised at the start, and then Morris taking a tactical substitute ride in the next to partner Lawson to a maximum.

But in mid-meeting Panthers re-build their advantage with Grondal getting the better of Ellis in an excellent Heat 8 and guest James Sarjeant providing a notable victory in the next race – both in Peterborough 4-2s.

A third successive advantage followed as Wilson-Dean and Palm Toft collected four more points in Heat 10, and Panthers hammered home their supremacy in Heat 12 with Wilson-Dean and Sarjeant both making their way past Ellis to extend the lead to 14 points.

That made things virtually certain despite a Lakeside 5-1 over Barker and Ulrich Ostergaard in Heat 13, but the visitors ensured all four league points courtesy of Wilkinson and Palm Toft in the penultimate race, before Wilson-Dean fell in the finale as the Hammers gained a minor late consolation.

Panthers boss Carl Johnson said: “We wanted to finish top of the league, I feel we deserve to be top, and although we’ve not won anything yet we’ve put ourselves in a much better position than we were in last night.

“The Workington match had a massive effect on us. We were disappointed with the performances of certain riders and the team in general, and we wanted to put that right as soon as possible.

“The best time and way to do it was the next night, and we couldn’t ask any more from the boys. They had to keep their focus because we had to wait a long while to get on-track, but they did what they needed to do.

“It’s a track we are confident on, and it showed – just look at Emil’s score, and that’s what I expected. James and Wilko did a fantastic job as guests, and I’m really pleased with everybody.

“I know Ulrich isn’t quite the same at the moment, but we’ve got to pick him up. He’s a better rider than this, and he’s still got the quality – we need to get it out of him.

“Obviously we now have a decision to make regarding who we face, and we’ll be having those discussions between the management and the team in the next couple of days. I would expect we’ll be able to announce something early next week.”

LAKESIDE 40: Nick Morris 18, Richard Lawson 7+3, Matt Wethers 7, Adam Ellis 4, Alfie Bowtell 2+1, Ben Morley 2, Kyle Newman r/r.
PETERBOROUGH 50: Bradley Wilson-Dean 10+1, Emil Grondal 10+1, Ben Barker 8+2, James Sarjeant 7+2, Michael Palm Toft 7+2, Carl Wilkinson 6, Ulrich Ostergaard 2.

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