PANTHERS 53 IPSWICH 37

Sunday June 17, 2018
PETERBOROUGH overcame the loss of Ulrich Ostergaard to book their place in the Championship Shield semi-finals with a convincing win over Ipswich.

The T.Balfe Construction Panthers triumphed 53-37 at the East of England Arena to ensure they are the best group runners-up – and they therefore join Workington, Scunthorpe and Lakeside in the last four.

Ostergaard was involved in a frightening Heat 7 spill when he clipped rival Nico Covatti on the exit of turn four, and was sent into the fence at high speed.

The Dane required extensive attention before being transferred to hospital for further checks, although he was conscious and had movement in his hands and feet.

Without him, his team-mates rallied and pulled clear in the second half of the meeting with three successive 5-1s in Heats 12-14 ending the Witches’ challenge.

Panthers narrowly missed out on a 5-1 in Heat 1 when Rory Schlein edged ahead of Ellis Perks for second place in a blanket finish, but with the scores level after the reserves’ race the hosts did get their maximum in the third.

Michael Palm Toft stretched clear on the opening lap whilst Bradley Wilson-Dean fought hard to fend off the challenge of Covatti for second spot.

Former Panthers Schlein and Danny King were always going to pose a major threat, and they reeled off wins in the next three races with Panthers sharing the spoils on each occasion.

Tom Bacon got the better of his Birmingham colleague Danyon Hume with a firm inside move in Heat 4, whilst Wilson-Dean and Palm Toft quickly got the better of Cameron Heeps to pack in behind Schlein in the next.

Ostergaard’s crash put the pressure on Simon Lambert, and the Panthers captain responded in fine style by winning the re-run ahead of the Witches, before fellow reserve Bacon combined with Perks to overcome Connor Mountain on the first lap of Heat 8 for a Panthers 5-1.

The Witches brought Schlein in for a tactical substitute outing in Heat 9 and must have fancied their chances when Palm Toft broke the tapes – but King was kept at the back by Lambert and Wilson-Dean for almost the entire race before snatching third from Wilson-Dean late-on.

The visitors edged two more points back in Heat 11 when Heeps, mounted on King’s bike, rounded Lambert for third place, but Panthers then finished strongly.

Bacon out-gated Covatti and then rounded Mountain to join Wilson-Dean for a 5-1 in Heat 12, and a thrilling Heat 13 saw first Palm Toft and then Nicholls overhaul the fast-starting Schlein.

With their semi-final place booked, Palm Toft and Lambert kept the ball rolling with maximum points in Heat 14 after Danyon Hume had crashed out, before Schlein completed an impressive personal display with a final race win over Palm Toft and Nicholls.

Panthers boss Carl Johnson said: “It’s very pleasing to get the win to put us through to the next round, and it completes another very good weekend for us with two good performances.

“The team spirit is good, everyone wants to work together and help each other, and I think it was always a case of getting everyone dialled into the track here.

“It was always going to come, it was just a question of when, and it’s put us in a good position both in the league and the Shield.

“Now it’s the luck of the draw as to who we get, and what happens over the two nights, but if you want to be the best you have to beat the best.

“All I can say on Ulrich at the moment is that he has pain in his back, and at the time he didn’t really know where he was. It was a nasty crash but we know it can happen in speedway and we just had to get on with it.”

Panthers are next in action in the Championship at Redcar on Thursday, and they host Lakeside at the East of England Arena on Friday June 29.

PETERBOROUGH 53: Michael Palm Toft 13, Scott Nicholls 11+2, Simon Lambert 9+1, Bradley Wilson-Dean 8+2, Tom Bacon 6+2, Ellis Perks 4+2, Ulrich Ostergaard 2.
IPSWICH 37: Rory Schlein 15, Danny King 7, Connor Mountain 5, Nico Covatti 4+1, Georgie Wood 4+1, Cameron Heeps 1, Danyon Hume 1.

Picture: DIANA HONE

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