FRUSTRATION FOR PANTHERS

Thursday April 20, 2017
PETERBOROUGH just missed out on a valuable SGB Championship point when slipping to a second defeat of the season on Thursday night.

The ‘T Balfe Construction’ Panthers went down 50-40 against a highly-touted Sheffield side at Owlerton Stadium.

Their fate was sealed despite a fine triumph from Paul Starke, who returned from a shoulder problem with a top-scoring haul of 12 points, in a shared penultimate heat.

Starke was left on a solo mission in the re-run of that race after Bradley Wilson-Dean was excluded from the initial staging following a third-bend spill that the Peterborough camp felt was caused by Sheffield man Todd Kurtz.

Starke’s excellent effort did still leave them with hopes of snatching a consolation point in the finale, but they were ended by a 5-1 from Tigers duo Kyle Howarth and Lasse Bjerre.

It was an outcome that again left Panthers frustrated as video evidence showed number one Jack Holder beat Bjerre for second place, only to see the home rider awarded the place by referee Tony Steele.

Team boss Carl Johnson admitted: “It is never nice to be on the receiving end of poor decisions and it happened twice in the final two races.

“The referee told me there was daylight between Kurtz and Bradley in the heat 14 incident, yet the tyre-marks on Bradley’s kevlars suggest that wasn’t the case at all.

“He was shocked to be excluded and it was a massive moment in the meeting. We could have been going up against one Sheffield rider in the re-run and had a really good chance to close the gap.

“We saw a video after the meeting that clearly showed Jack took second place in heat 15 as well. While that didn’t change the overall result, it was another source of frustration and cost the rider money.

“I felt our performance deserved a league point so coming away with nothing is very disappointing.

“A couple of big calls didn’t go our way, but we also threw away a few points ourselves.”

The final 10-point margin was the biggest gap between the sides throughout a thrilling meeting.

They were only two points apart after a third of the contest with a 4-2 for Bjerre and Kurtz in heat three giving Sheffield the edge.

Panthers saw their arrears double when captain Ulrich Ostergaard could only split the home pair of Josh Bates and Josh Grajczonek in heat six, but they were wiped out when Starke and Wilson-Dean combined for a fine 5-1 in the eighth instalment.

Sheffield immediately responded with back-to-back 4-2s to regain a four-point cushion at two-thirds distance, but a Holder-inspired 4-2 in heat 11 kept Panthers hot on the trail of their hosts.

Wilson-Dean couldn’t prevent Tigers pair Bjerre and Rob Branford bagging a 5-1 in the next race and the New Zealand champion was then left even more frustrated by his dismissal from the penultimate contest after Holder had taken the flag in a shared heat 13.

Panthers were still in a position to snatch a point if able to record a 3-3 or better in the last race, but Holder and Ostergaard were on the receiving end of a hotly-disputed 5-1.

Johnson opted not to use Starke in that race due to him already having completed five rides despite feeling discomfort from his hurt shoulder.

Peterborough return to action on May 7 when entertaining Edinburgh in the first of three successive home meetings.

SCORES

SHEFFIELD: Lasse Bjerre 12+1, Kyle Howarth 12, Josh Grajczonek 8+1, Todd Kurtz 6, Rob Branford 5+2, Josh Bates 5, Jack Parkinson-Blackburn 2+2

PETERBOROUGH ‘T BALFE CONSTRUCTION’ PANTHERS: Paul Starke 12, Jack Holder 9+2, Bradley Wilson-Dean 9+1, Ulrich Ostergaard 9, Simon Lambert 1+1, Tom Bacon 0, Rider replacement for Kenneth Hansen.

Picture: ANDY GARNER

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