PANTHERS 42 BELLE VUE 48

Thursday September 05, 2019
DEPLETED Peterborough were edged out 48-42 by Belle Vue on their return to the East of England Arena on Thursday.

The injury-hit Crendon Panthers put up a great fight to take the Aces all the way to a last-heat decider – and it was one which ended with vastly mixed emotions for the visitors.

Whilst Max Fricke and Kenneth Bjerre took a 4-2 to win the match, Rohan Tungate held on to second place which limited the Manchester side to three league points from the meeting.

And with play-off rivals Ipswich and Wolverhampton both taking maximum points from their meetings, it means the Aces are now unable to qualify for the end-of-season title shoot-out.

For Panthers, Tungate was immense against his former club after conceding a 5-1 in his first ride, Michael Palm Toft made a successful guest appearance and Ulrich Ostergaard was excellent in his late-season home debut.

But the best news of all was a remarkable escape for skipper Hans Andersen, back to form with 7+1 from four rides – and denied a win by clutch failure on the last lap of Heat 5 – who slammed into the fence coming off turn two in Heat 12 and took a spectacular fall.

Thankfully there was far more damage to the fence itself than the Panthers legend, who was able to walk away from the crash and even take part in Heat 15, albeit not with the ideal result.

The Aces led narrowly for much of the evening, but Panthers always remained in touch thanks to two 5-1s from the Andersen/Palm Toft combination in Heats 3 and 9, whilst the visitors were left to rue an unprecedented string of mechanical problems for Kenneth Bjerre.

The former Peterborough star, so imperious on his old home track this season, was a clear winner of Heat 4 but then suffered three successive breakdowns which ultimately proved very costly for his side.

Andersen’s crash came just after Tungate and Ostergaard had levelled the scores with a stunning 5-1 over Fricke, with Ostergaard going past Fricke on the second lap, but the re-run of Heat 12 saw Dimitri Berge and Dan Bewley see off Simon Lambert.

Panthers still fought on and managed a 4-2 in Heat 13 as Tungate got past Fricke for the win, but Jye Etheridge won a thrilling Heat 14 against Ostergaard to put the Aces four points to the good.

Fricke dominated Heat 15 from the gate which was enough to seal the Belle Vue win, but Tungate’s determined defence of second place meant it was overall disappointment for the visitors.

Panthers manager Carl Johnson said: “It was a fantastic meeting, and the supporters should be really proud of the team because the boys have really battled, after all the troubles we’ve had.

“I know we’ve lost the meeting, which we’re disappointed about, but I think the performance was superb and the racing was fantastic.

“Hans came out with all guns blazing and looked really good until his massive off, it was huge and I’m surprised he walked away from it. His bike let him down in the end in Heat 15, but it was good to see him getting a few points.

“I said we’d be in the mix for deciding play-off places, and we’ve just ended Belle Vue’s hopes, which is disappointing for them, but results have gone against them elsewhere.

“I look at tonight and I know that if we’d had our full one-to-seven we could have beaten Belle Vue, and that’s been the disappointment all season – the team has chopped and changed, but there have been times where if we could have put the same seven out, we would have got results.”

Panthers are quickly back in action on Monday as current league leaders Swindon – who are chasing top spot ahead of the play-offs – provide the opposition, whilst Charles Wright and Scott Nicholls are both due back for the hosts.

PREMIERSHIP:
PETERBOROUGH 42: Rohan Tungate 14, Michael Palm Toft 10+1, Hans Andersen 7+1, Ulrich Ostergaard 7+1, Simon Lambert 3+1, Ty Proctor 1, Charles Wright r/r
BELLE VUE 48: Max Fricke 12, Dimitri Berge 10, Jye Etheridge 8+1, Dan Bewley 6+1, Steve Worrall 4+1, Jaimon Lidsey 4+1, Kenneth Bjerre 4

Picture: IAN CHARLES

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