Late heartache for Panthers at Birmingham

PETERBOROUGH suffered late heartache in a dramatic 44-46 defeat at Birmingham on Wednesday – but they still gained a useful away point in their quest for the play-offs.

PETERBOROUGH suffered late heartache in a dramatic 44-46 defeat at Birmingham on Wednesday – but they still gained a useful away point in their quest for the play-offs.

The Readypower Panthers led throughout much of the meeting in the Second City only to be overturned by a Heat 15 5-1 from home duo Danny King and Ben Barker to win the match for the Brummies.

Patrick Hougaard once again shone at reserve with a paid-15 score as Panthers covered for the injured Norbert Kosciuch, and skipper Kenneth Bjerre won his first three races.

And with a four-point lead going into the final four heats, Panthers looked good to add another away win to recent spectacular successes at Swindon and Poole, only for the home side to mount their last-ditch comeback.

Panthers were off to a flyer with maximum points in Heat 1 and a 4-2 in the reserves’ race as Hougaard dominated – and although Birmingham responded with a 5-1 in Heat 3, Panthers hit straight back through Hougaard and Joonas Kylmakorpi in the next after the race had been stopped when home star Martin Smolinski’s bike caught fire.

There was controversy in Heat 5 when Ryan Fisher went down under Barker’s strong inside challenge going into the third bend, Barker’s momentum then taking him into team-mate King and leaving all three riders on the deck. To Panthers’ exasperation, Fisher was disqualified leaving Bjerre to prevent damage by winning the re-run.

Most Read

A further trading of 5-1s kept the visitors six points up, but Fisher came to grief again in Heat 8 and the resultant Brummies 4-2 followed up by a 5-1 in the next brought the scores level.

However, when Bjerre and Fisher raced clear of Smolinski in Heat 11, Panthers were into a 35-31 lead and seemed well in control of the meeting.

The next two races were shared, and both saw Birmingham riders make passing moves to get to the front, King overhauling Hougaard on the run to the line in Heat 12 and Chris Harris ending Bjerre’s unbeaten run in the next.

Barker dived inside Krzysztof Buczkowski on turn three in Heat 14 with guest David Bellego notching a vital third place ahead of Hougaard to narrow the gap to just two points.

Even so, with Bjerre in such good form Panthers’ hopes were high – but he and Buczkowski were out-manoeuvred by King and Barker in the first half-lap of the decider, and from a possible three points Panthers had to be content with one.

Co-promoter Trevor Swales said: “Birmingham rode well to pull us back after we pulled clear a few times, so fair play to them.

“The only time we were behind was after Heat 15 which is not good, and we would have obviously liked more than a point to help our chase for the play-offs.

“We’ve still got plenty of fixtures remaining so I’m confident we can still make that top four.”

BIRMINGHAM 46: Ben Barker 13+1, Danny King 11+3, Jason Doyle 9, Chris Harris 6+1, David Bellego 4, Josh Auty 2, Martin Smolinski 1.

PETERBOROUGH 44: Patrick Hougaard 13+2, Kenneth Bjerre 11, Krzysztof Buczkowski 7+1, Joonas Kylmakorpi 6+1, Ryan Fisher 5+2, Dakota North 2+1, Norbert Kosciuch r/r.

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter