Bank Holiday day to forget for Panthers
Elite League: PETERBOROUGH 37 COVENTRY 56 Elite League: COVENTRY 50 PETERBOROUGH 40
PETERBOROUGH were left reeling from a disastrous Bank Holiday double-header against Coventry – which saw the Bees take a maximum of seven points from the day.
The Readypower Panthers suffered an almost collective nightmare at the Showground in the afternoon, and whilst they were much-improved at Brandon later on the points continued to elude them.
The first meeting of the day saw Panthers beaten by the most impressive-looking Coventry team to visit the Showground in some years, with the visitors’ Polish trio all revelling in the open spaces.
In fact, the home side could provide just four heat winners all afternoon, and three of those came from skipper Kenneth Bjerre who won his first trio of outings.
5-1s to Coventry in Heats 4 and 7 put them into a ten-point lead and into control of the meeting, although Panthers gained some respite with a fine ride by Patrick Hougaard to snatch a Heat 8 win on the line from Olly Allen.
But when Linus Sundstrom went for double-points in the next race, he was left at the back as Scott Nicholls and Aaron Summers banked maximum points for the Bees.
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The second tactical ride was far more successful as Bjerre and Nicolai Klindt combined for a big 8-1 which gave the Panthers a glimmer of hope as they trailed by seven points with five heats to go.
But Coventry quickly regained the initiative with a brace of 4-2s, Krzysztof Kasprzak proving a particularly strong performer, and a 5-1 from Kasprzak and Scott Nicholls in Heat 13 secured their victory.
Ride of the day arguably came from Bees reserve Michal Szczepaniak in Heat 14 as he made his way around Sundstrom and then inside Hougaard to take the win, with Nicholls and Kasprzak multiplying Panthers’ misery with a 5-1 in the last.
PETERBOROUGH 37: Kenneth Bjerre 12, Patrick Hougaard 7, Linus Sundstrom 6+1, Kenni Larsen 5, Ryan Fisher 3+2, Nicolai Klindt 2+1, Dakota North 2.
COVENTRY 56: Krzysztof Kasprzak 13+1, Scott Nicholls 12+2, Michal Szczepaniak 10+1, Grzegorz Zengota 9+1, Aaron Summers 5+2, Olly Allen 4+1, Stuart Robson 3.
The action recommenced down the A14 in the evening, and for much of the event the Panthers looked a different side as they reeled off a host of heat wins.
Ryan Fisher and Linus Sundstrom were both especially impressive, and that combination put the visitors into an early lead as they took advantage of an error from Grzegorz Zengota in Heat 3.
Kenni Larsen was a fast winner of Heat 4 on his old home track, against Scott Nicholls, but Coventry picked up their first 5-1 in Heat 5 as Zengota and Stuart Robson both went inside Kenneth Bjerre off the second bend.
Another Bees 5-1 followed in Heat 6 when Larsen fell whilst contesting second place with Olly Allen, but at 15-21 down the Panthers worked hard to get themselves back into the meeting.
They provided winners in each of the next four heats, and increased the pressure on Coventry with a 5-1 in Heat 9 as Dakota North came up with a fine start to partner Larsen against Zengota and Robson.
Fisher and Sundstrom then shot between Allen and Krzysztof Kasprzak up the back straight in Heat 10, and the Pole fell as he tried to respond. The re-run saw Fisher lead as Panthers looked set to level the scores, but they actually improved on that with Sundstrom snatching second place from Allen on the line to put them 31-29 up.
At that stage, it looked likely that Panthers would take at least their first away point of the season, and quite possibly more, but Coventry fashioned a response with Aaron Summers making a fine getaway from the outside in Heat 11 with partner Nicholls alongside him, leaving Bjerre unable to make an impression.
Although Fisher took his third win of the night in Heat 12, a shared heat kept Coventy ahead, and Nicholls and Kasprzak then took the honours in the big Heat 13 to round off a troubled night for Bjerre.
Panthers urgently needed an advantage from Heat 14 but Summers and Robson were content to keep Hougaard at the back as Sundstrom won the race.
The Swede was still unbeaten at that stage, and had he been able to complete a maximum in the last race, Panthers would have taken a league point – but it was Nicholls and Kasprzak again who secured the result for the Bees, as they extended their lead beyond six points for the first time in the meeting just when they needed it most.
Panthers have less than 48 hours to lick their wounds from a day to forget, as they next face King’s Lynn at the Norfolk Arena on Wednesday.
COVENTRY 50: Scott Nicholls 11+2, Krzysztof Kasprzak 10+2, Michal Szczepaniak 7+1, Aaron Summers 6+3, Grzegorz Zengota 6, Olly Allen 5+2, Stuart Robson 5+1.
PETERBOROUGH 40: Linus Sundstrom 11+2, Ryan Fisher 9, Kenni Larsen 6+1, Patrick Hougaard 6, Dakota North 4, Kenneth Bjerre 2, Nicolai Klindt 2.