Saturday September 29, 2018
PETERBOROUGH are through to one semi-final – and very much in the fight to progress from another after an eventful double-header at Rye House on Saturday.

The T.Balfe Construction Panthers were beaten 50-40 by Lakeside in the first leg of the Championship Shield semi, in a match which was bookended by two 5-1s for the Hammers in Heats 1 and 15 – to leave a ten-point margin to be pulled back when the sides meet again on Sunday.

But Panthers are definitely through to the KO Cup semi-finals, where they will meet Scunthorpe, after a successful defence of their 14-point first leg lead – with the score standing at 40-38 to Lakeside on the night when a halt was called due to the curfew two races short.

The Shield clash opened with a Lakeside 5-1 from Richard Lawson and Ben Morley before Panthers began a good containing job with six successive shared races.

There were heat wins in that spell from Michael Palm Toft in Heat 4 and guest James Sarjeant in the next, who overtook Kyle Newman for an excellent victory.

Sarjeant was kept in third place by Alfie Bowtell in Heat 8, but a win for Ulrich Ostgeraard helped narrow the gap to two points, which was how things stood with five heats to go.

Lakeside edged a 4-2 from Heat 11 with Panthers guest Tero Aario getting between Nick Morris and Broc Nicol, and they went six-up as Morris won Heat 13 with Lawson third, split by Aarnio.

Sarjeant won Heat 14 to move into double-figures, but the Hammers were destined for their own double-figure lead courtesy of maximum points from Morris and Lawson over Aarnio and Palm Toft in the final race.

The KO Cup match started in farcical fashion with confusion over the start-time leaving Panthers up against it to reach the tapes for Heat 1, and separate disqualifications for Emil Grondal and Aarnio led to both reserves taking part.

But after conceding a 4-2 there, Sarjeant and Simon Lambert secured a vital 5-1 in Heat 2 to leave the Hammers chasing a 16-point aggregate margin.

And the home side made few inroads into that deficit, as even after a 4-2 in Heat 4 to level the scores on the night, Panthers responded in Heat 7 through Ostergaard and Grondal, with an excellent 4-2 over Morris and Nicol.

Ostergaard then picked up a disqualification from Heat 8 for infringing on his way to the tapes, with Morley and Bowtell collecting a 5-1 as Bowtell re-passed Sarjeant for second place.

But a trading of 4-2s in Heats 10 and 11 kept Panthers in charge with a 12-point aggregate lead, although a Lakeside 5-1 in Heat 12 from Bowtell and Adam Ellis may have given the Hammers brief hope of a great escape.

That, though, was quickly extinguished in a stunning Heat 13 for Panthers as Aarnio and Palm Toft got out ahead of the home side’s big top two of Lawson and Morris, for a 5-1 to end the tie at a stroke – and that also turned out to be the end of the night’s racing.

Panthers promoter Ged Rathbone said: “Considering what we’ve had to put up with, including the injury to Ben Barker on Thursday and Tero coming in at short notice, we’re very happy with the night’s work.

“We were a little unlucky not to hold things closer in the first meeting, and to be honest after running them close in the second I think potentially we would have pushed on and grabbed a win on the night.

“So we’re over the moon to be in another semi-final, and there’s still more to come from us as well.

“Ulrich got better as the night went on, he got more competitive, which is encouraging for us, and also Simon came to the party on a track which isn’t one of his favourites.

“We were made to look stupid in Heat 1 of the Cup match because we were told we were warming bikes up at a certain time, but that wasn’t to be and the two-minute warning went on.

“We asked the clerk of the course to contact the referee just to give us two or three more minutes, but that was denied. The start-time should have been made clear, and we weren’t told – but we fought through that, we didn’t play the games and we concentrated on doing what we had to do.

“It was a fantastic 5-1 in Heat 13 to make sure we went through, with Tofty doing what he’s capable of doing. With the self-belief in him, Tofty can beat anyone in the UK – not just in our league, in the top league as well. But hats off to everyone, it had to be a team effort, and everyone chipped in.

“We did things properly, we had Carl Wilkinson there on stand-by in case we lost a rider in the first meeting, plus we had Jordan Jenkins there as No.8, so we were organised and covered all bases, and I have to pay tribute to a huge following of Peterborough fans – hats off to them, they were fantastic.

“It was a shame for them that we didn’t get to run the last two races, the meeting did go on longer the last time we were there, but I suppose I can understand stopping when we did.”

LAKESIDE 50: Nick Morris 14, Richard Lawson 11+1, Alfie Bowtell 10+2, Adam Ellis 6+1, Kyle Newman 5+1, Ben Morley 3+2, Broc Nicol.
PETERBOROUGH 40: James Sarjeant 11+2, Michael Palm Toft 8, Ulrich Ostergaard 7, Emil Grondal 6+3, Tero Aarnio 6, Simon Lambert 2, Bradley Wilson-Dean r/r.

LAKESIDE 40: Adam Ellis 11+1, Richard Lawson 8, Nick Morris 8, Alfie Bowtell 7+1, Ben Morley 5+1, Broc Nicol 1, Kyle Newman 0.
PETERBOROUGH 38: Michael Palm Toft 9+1, James Sarjeant 8, Emil Grondal 7, Tero Aarnio 6+1, Ulrich Ostergaard 5+1, Simon Lambert 3+2, Bradley Wilson-Dean r/r.
Abandoned after 13 heats - Curfew - RESULT STANDS
Peterborough 90-78 on aggregate.

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