Thursday September 15, 2022
PETERBOROUGH suffered another agonising 46-44 reverse in their final Premiership match of the season on Thursday.

The Crendon Panthers lost out in a last-heat decider at home to Belle Vue, the third time in their last four meetings that they have been beaten by that scoreline.

A topsy-turvy encounter saw both sides trade the advantage amongst a series of 5-1s, before Aces duo Tom Brennan and Matej Zagar packed in behind Panthers No.1 Chris Harris for a 3-3 in the decider.

In many ways, though, the meeting was secondary to the major announcement beforehand that Panthers’ future for 2023 is secure and they will once again take their place in the league.

The visitors made a strong start with a 5-1 in Heat 1, and they provided the first three race winners courtesy of Brennan, Norick Blodorn and Zagar.

But Panthers came storming back in Heat 4 with guest Danny King making a fast start whilst skipper Scott Nicholls worked hard to hold back the challenge of Blodorn for a 5-1.

And the scores were levelled at 15-15 with Hans Andersen gaining a welcome race win in a close-fought Heat 5 which saw Max Fricke relegated to the back by Benjamin Basso.

The Aces took advantage of a re-start to notch a 5-1 in Heat 6 as Harris suffered mechanical trouble, whilst King saw off Charles Wright to take his second win in the next.

And the home side were back on terms again after Heat 8 with Andersen being joined by Jordan Jenkins, who had defeated Wright in his second ride and then kept Blodorn and Brennan behind him in another highly promising performance.

After a shared race won by Basso, Heat 10 threw up one of the races of the season with Andersen and Harris working overtime to keep Wright and Zagar at bay, the Slovenian making it three abreast into the last lap before being squeezed out with Wright then just missing out to Andersen on the line.

But the Aces roared back after the interval with successive 5-1s to turn a four-point deficit into a four-point lead, with fast gating from Brennan and Fricke to defeat Nicholls and King in Heat 11, and then Zagar and Jye Etheridge produced maximum points over the Panthers reserves in the next.

Panthers were not to be outdone with Harris and King taking a maximum over Fricke and Brady Kurtz in Heat 13 to leave it all square at 39-39.

But the Aces edged a 4-2 in Heat 14 as Wright headed Basso whilst Blodorn salvaged third place from Nicholls to make it 43-41 with one race to go.

Panthers’ hopes were raised in the decider when Harris and King both made the start from gates one and three, but the Aces pair of Brennan and Zagar surged inside King on the exit of turn four to see their side to a narrow victory.

Boss Rob Lyon said: “It was a great team performance and it was just unlucky in the last one, but that’s just the way it goes sometimes.

“Credit to Belle Vue, they hung in there and got the result they needed, but we’ve shown a lot of fight in the last few weeks and I think we probably deserved to win tonight. The boys put the effort in, and you can’t fault them for that.

“We had fantastic year last year, it was memorable in many ways, and things just haven’t worked out for us this year. Hopefully ’23 will bring more success for Peterborough.”

Although the Panthers’ league campaign is at an end, they do still have two more Premiership Pairs events to fulfil, which take place at Sheffield on October 24 and Belle Vue on October 27.

PETERBOROUGH 44: Hans Andersen 10+1, Chris Harris 9, Danny King 8+1, Scott Nicholls 6+1, Benjamin Basso 6, Jordan Jenkins 5+2, Ulrich Ostergaard r/r.
BELLE VUE 46: Tom Brennan 11, Matej Zagar 8+2, Charles Wright 7, Jye Etheridge 6+2, Brady Kurtz 5+1, Norick Blodorn 5, Max Fricke 4+2.

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