Panthers get themselves in another sticky situation with only a two-point lead to take to Plymouth on Friday. Ben Barker in star form for the Devils
- Credit: Archant
Peterborough 46 Plymouth 44 KO Cup quarter-final, first leg
Peterborough Panthers have left themselves in another sticky Premier League KO Cup situation.
The ‘TC Harrison’ Panthers could only claim a 46-44 home victory over Plymouth in the opening leg of their quarter-final clash at the East of England Showground.
It means that for the second successive round in this competition they face a tough task to make progress when travelling to Plymouth for the second leg on Friday.
Panthers successfully defended a three-point first leg lead when edging out Scunthorpe in the previous round and they will need another rock-solid away showing in this contest.
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They will no doubt take heart from a League Cup success at Plymouth earlier in the season but team boss Trevor Swales, who took sole charge tonight, admitted his side fell short of expectations tonight.
He said: “It was only our second home meeting in five weeks and that clearly didn’t help us, but I’m not going to make excuses.
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“Plymouth rode very well whereas we had too many guys either struggling with machinery or form.
“We had hoped to take a lead of around 10 points into the second leg, but we have now left ourselves with a tougher job to do down in Devon.
“There are no ifs or buts about it – we need to come away from Plymouth on Friday in possession of a place in the semi-finals.”
Ales Dryml and Lasse Bjerre were the top performers for Panthers with 12+1 and 11+1 respectively while skipper Ulrich Ostergaard, who twice teamed up with Dryml for 5-1s in heats three and nine, delivered a solid 9+2.
But the real star of the show was visiting number one Ben Barker. He racked up 14 points to lead the Devils’ charge, suffering his only defeat at the hands of Bjerre in a shared heat 13 after Ryan Fisher had retired with Panthers on a 5-1.
Fisher’s ongoing mechanical issues are a cause for concern as is the shortage of points at reserve. Joe Jacobs managed only three from five rides while guest Dan Greenwood couldn’t add to a third place in his opening ride.
Lewis Blackbird was also below his best after managing just one point from his first three outings, but he signed off with a spectacular victory in a heat 10 thriller.
The teams were never separated by more than four points in a tense tussle. The tone was set as five of the opening seven races were shared.
Plymouth did edge ahead when Barker blazed clear in the opener to earn a 4-2 but Dryml and Ostergaard’s first maximum turned a narrow Panthers deficit into a narrow advantage.
The teams then traded 5-1s with visiting pair Rasmus Jensen and Sam Simota doing the business in heat 8 before the reliable Ostergaard and Dryml provided an instant reply to edge Panthers back ahead.
That Blackbird-inspired 10th heat 4-2 then pulled Panthers further clear, but their lead was wiped out when Plymouth claimed another 5-1 in a clash of the unbeaten titans.
Barker completed a hat-trick of heat wins with Bjerre, who had also won his first two outings, toiling back in third.
And the sides remained deadlocked despite Dryml scorching to heat 12 victory and Bjerre getting back in the winning groove in heat 13 when his partner Fisher retired with bike problems at the end of the opening lap as they were on a 5-1.
Panthers took advantage of an open goal to claim a 4-2 in the penultimate race with Ostergaard taking the honours as Plymouth were only able to track one rider. Reserve guest Ben Morley and Simota were both excluded under two minutes.
But Barker ensured Panthers’ gains were kept to a minimum by winning the finale ahead of what promises to be an exciting deciding leg at the St Boniface Arena.
‘TC HARRISON’ PANTHERS: Ales Dryml 12+1, Lasse Bjerre 11+1, Ulrich Ostergaard 9+2, Ryan Fisher 6, Lewis Blackbird 4, Joe Jacobs 3, Dan Greenwood (guest) 1+1.
PLYMOUTH: Ben Barker 14, Rasmus Jensen 9+1, Sam Simota 8+4, Kalle Katajisto 7+2, Kyle Newman 6, Ben Morley (guest) 0, R/R for Adam Roynon.
1 - Barker (61.4), Fisher, Newman, Blackbird. 2-4, 2-4.
2 - Simota (62.8), Jacobs, Greenwood, Morley. 3-3, 5-7.
3 - Dryml (60.9), Ostergaard, Newman, Katajisto. 5-1, 10-8.
4 - Bjerre (61.5), Jensen, Simota, Greenwood. 3-3, 13-11.
5 - Barker (61.7), Dryml, Ostergaard, Morley. 3-3, 16-14.
6 - Fisher (62.7), Jensen, Simota, Blackbird. 3-3, 19-17.
7 - Bjerre (61.6), Newman, Katajisto, Jacobs. 3-3, 22-20.
8 - Jensen (62.3), Simota, Blackbird, Jacobs. 1-5, 23-25.
9 - Ostergaard (62.3), Dryml, Jensen, Morley. 5-1, 28-26.
10 - Blackbird (62.6), Katajisto, Fisher, Newman. 4-2, 32-28.
11 - Barker (62.8), Katajisto, Bjerre, Jacobs. 1-5, 33-33.
12 - Dryml (63.0), Katajisto, Simota, Greenwood. 3-3, 36-36.
13 - Bjerre (63.0), Barker, Jensen, Fisher (ret). 3-3, 39-39.
14 - Ostergaard (63.2), Newman, Jacobs, Simota (exc. tapes), Morley (exc. tapes). 4-2, 43-41.
15 - Barker (63.0), Dryml, Bjerre, Katajisto. 3-3, 46-44.