King's Lynn 47, Panthers 43 – Panthers' play-off hopes are still alive …
Elite League report: Peterborough Panthers chief Trevor Swales reckons the club s slim play-off hopes are still alive – thanks to their best away performance of the season.
The city men collected just a third point on their travels by pushing local rivals King s Lynn to the limit in a frenetic derby duel at the Norfolk Arena last night. Swales charges were never more than six points adrift and had their hosts – who are now odds-on to make the play-offs – worried when mounting a stirring late bid for victory. In the end the combination of cruel luck and the brilliance of a rider owned by Peterborough prevented them turning a narrow defeat into something much more significant.
Panthers were half-a-dozen points down going into the final three races but big-guns Nicki Pedersen and Troy Batchelor delivered a much-needed 4-2 in heat 13. Another looked on the cards in the penultimate contest until Panthers reserve Kacper Gomolski suffered a broken primary chain that led to him hitting the deck on the last lap. Gomolski was holding third at the time with partner Linus Sundstrom out in front, but his crash allowed the wobbling hosts to escape with a share of the spoils.
It meant Panthers were left needing a maximum return from the finale to snatch a draw and things were going well until their own asset and Lynn number one Kenneth Bjerre weaved his magic. Bjerre charged from third to first by passing Batchelor and Pedersen to break the hearts of his parent club, but team boss Swales was still in upbeat mood. He said: That was easily our best performance on the road all year.
We would be certainties for the play-offs if we had ridden like that on a regular basis. At least it is easier to stomach a loss when the lads have ridden well, fought hard and put in maximum effort. The majority of the boys chipped in with good points and Lynn knew they had been in one hell of a meeting.
They were really panicking towards the end and I fancy we might have nicked the win had it not been for Kacper s bit of bad luck in heat 14. We still had a chance of getting a draw in the last race and it s ironic that a rider we own in Kenneth ended up costing us. The one scenario we were desperate to avoid last night was seeing our play-off hopes ended and that didn t happen.
We are only too aware that our chances of making the top four are slim, but we will keep fighting on while there is hope. There are 10 points still to play for in our three remaining meetings and we need every single one of them, starting by beating Lynn well at our place tonight. Panthers were led by double-figure hauls from skipper Pedersen and Batchelor – the former Lynn riders bagging 12+1 and 11+1 respectively at their old stomping ground.
But it was the display of new recruit Michael Jepsen Jensen that really delighted Swales. The Danish teenager showed just why Panthers fought long and hard to secure his signature with a paid eight-point performance. Jensen claimed a first race victory in British speedway when powering to glory in heat eight by seeing off fellow Danish whizzkid Lasse Bjerre and he soon reproduced more heroics when zooming past another countryman, Niels Kristian Iversen, to follow home captain Pedersen for a heat 11 5-1.
Swales added: Michael is very much a signing for the future so seeing him produce a performance like this so early in his Peterborough career is really pleasing. It is easy to see why he is so highly-rated in the sport and he really benefited from riding on an engine provided by Michael Lee, whose knowledge and experience will be a big help to him. The two disappointments for Panthers were Polish ace Krzysztof Buczkowski and reserve Richard Lawson who only managed one point apiece.
Scores: SCORES King s Lynn
Kenneth Bjerre 13 (3, 2, 3, 2, 3) Lasse Bjerre 5+2 (0, 1*, 2, 2*) Oliver Allen 8+2 (3, 1*, 1*, 3)
Mads Korneliussen 8+1 (2*, 2, 2, 2, 0) Niels Kristian Iversen 6 (2, 3, 1, F) Filip Sitera 0 (0, 0, 0)
Kozza Smith 7+4 (2, 1*, 1*, 2*, 1*) Team manager: Rob Lyon. Panthers
Nicki Pedersen 12+1 (1*, 3, 3, 3, 2) Michael Jepsen Jensen 7+1 (2, 0, 3, 2*) Krzysztof Buczkowski 1+1 (0, 1*, 0, F)
Linus Sundstrom 7 (1, 2, 1, 3) Troy Batchelor 11+1 (3, 3, 3, 1, 1*) Richard Lawson 1 (1, 0, 0)
Kacper Gomolski 4 (3, R, 0, 1, F) Team manager: Trevor Swales. HEATS
1 – K. BJERRE (58.37), Jensen, Pedersen, L. Bjerre.
2 – GOMOLSKI (60.00), Smith, Lawson, Sitera.
3 – ALLEN (59.56), Korneliussen, Sundstrom, Buczkowski.
4 – BATCHELOR (59.19), Iversen, Smith, Gomolski (ret).
5 – PEDERSEN (58.68), Korneliussen, Allen, Jensen.
6 – BATCHELOR (58.68), K. Bjerre, L. Bjerre, Lawson.
7 – IVERSEN (59.31), Sundstrom, Buczkowski, Sitera.
8 – JENSEN (58.50), L. Bjerre, Smith, Gomolski.
9 – BATCHELOR (60.00), Korneliussen, Allen, Lawson.
10 – K. BJERRE (59.19), L.
Bjerre, Sundstrom, Buczkowski.
11 – PEDERSEN (58.81), Jensen, Iversen, Sitera.
12 – ALLEN (awarded), Smith, Gomolski, Buczkowski (fell).
13 – PEDERSEN (59.02), K. Bjerre, Batchelor, Iversen (fell).
14 – SUNDSTROM (awarded), Korneliussen, Smith, Gomolski (fell).
15 – K. BJERRE (59.86), Pedersen, Batchelor, Korneliussen.
Key: * = paid points, F = fell; R = retired.