SCUNTHORPE 59 PANTHERS 31

Friday October 05, 2018
PETERBOROUGH’S KO Cup defence suffered a major setback with a thumping 59-31 defeat at Scunthorpe on Friday.

The T.Balfe Construction Panthers ran into an in-form Scorpions side on a night when they were below-par in most departments, and the outcome was a result which leaves them second-favourites for next week’s return fixture.

Panthers had won on their league visit to the Eddie Wright Raceway in mid-season, but with significantly different personnel, and on this occasion they could provide just four heat wins.

Three of them came from guest No.1 Tero Aarnio, whose display was certainly beyond criticism even though his night ended with a last place in Heat 15.

The other success was from hard-working skipper Simon Lambert, who notched 9+1 from seven rides including the notable scalp of home star Steve Worrall in Heat 4.

But that aside, there was little for the visiting fans to cheer as an early level 6-6 position quickly went away from them.

The middle order failed to make a serious impact with Michael Palm Toft touching the tapes in his opening ride and guest Theo Pijper falling in Heat 3, which was the first of three 5-1s for the hosts’ Jason Garrity/Jake Allen combination.

The Scorpions steadily extended their lead from there, and when Worrall and Gino Mazares combined over Pijper and Ulrich Ostergaard in Heat 7 they were already into a double-figure lead.

The margin was up to 18 after Heat 10 before Aarnio and Lambert gave Panthers brief respite with a 4-2 split by Worrall in the next.

But any hopes of a serious revival were quickly snuffed out with three 5-1s in the last four races to put the Scorpions in total control at the halfway stage of the tie.

Aarnio defeated Worrall and Kyle Howarth in Heat 13 which at least stopped Scunthorpe from reaching 60 points, but this was still a night to forget for Panthers.

Disappointed manager Carl Johnson said: “It was a bad night for us. There was a lack of fight, a lack of belief, and we were simply beaten by the better side.

“Fair play to Scunthorpe, they caught us on what was a massive off-night, and it’s the first time this year that we can honestly turn round and say it was embarrassing. We were just awful tonight and I feel for all the supporters who came to watch us.

“Conditions were difficult because it started raining literally as we were going out for Heat 1 and it didn’t stop all night, but it was the same for both teams and we have to deal with it.

“It’s not impossible to drag it back, but it’s very difficult with that sort of margin. We had a meeting at the end with our three regular riders, and none of them want to be in the position that we’re in. They know it has to be sorted out on the track.

“Obviously injuries have cost us, the losses of Scott (Nicholls) and Tom (Bacon) were massive, but I also feel Bradley (Wilson-Dean) is irreplaceable. You don’t know what you’ll get from guests – tonight Tero rode really well, but Theo would have been hoping for more and obviously it was difficult for Drew Kemp.”

CHAMPIONSHIP KOC SEMI-FINAL, 1st leg
SCUNTHORPE 59: Jake Allen 13+2, Jason Garrity 12+1, Gino Manzares 10+4, Steve Worrall 9, Kyle Howarth 8+2, Stefan Nielsen 7, Danny Phillips 0
PETERBOROUGH 31: Tero Aarnio 11, Simon Lambert 9+2, Ulrich Ostergaard 5, Theo Pijper 4, Drew Kemp 1+1, Michael Palm Toft 1, Emil Grondal r/r

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