IPSWICH 44 PANTHERS 46

Thursday April 05, 2018
PETERBOROUGH stunned local rivals Ipswich with a sensational 46-44 triumph at Foxhall in Thursday’s Championship Shield encounter.

The T.Balfe Construction Panthers were victorious at the home of one of this season’s title favourites, and the result puts them in a strong position at the halfway stage of their group fixtures in the early-season competition.

Scott Nicholls and Michael Palm Toft combined for a crucial 3-3 in Heat 15, both getting the better of Rory Schlein, who had briefly appeared to be teaming up with Danny King for the 5-1 the Witches needed to snatch the win.

Nicholls had earlier secured a key 5-1 with Emil Grondal in Heat 11 as the Panthers pair saw off Nico Covatti to turn a two-point deficit into a two-point advantage – a margin they defended for the remainder of the meeting.

Nicholls hit back strongly from a last place in Heat 1 but the first half of proceedings were dominated by Panthers’ Ulrich Ostergaard, who won his first three outings, whilst Palm Toft also hit double figures from his programmed rides.

And with Tom Bacon taking control of the reserves’ race, there were numerous positives throughout the team for the visitors.

There were never more than four points between the sides in a tight derby encounter, and it was Ipswich who showed first with three 4-2s in the first five heats, punctuated by successes for Bacon and Ostergaard, to go 17-13 ahead.

But a 4-2 from Palm Toft and Nike Lunna in Heat 7, split by Covatti, pulled the gap back to two as Panthers refused to allow the hosts to build a lead.

Three successive 3-3s followed, including an eventful Heat 8 when Ipswich’s Michael Haertel worked his way to the front only for team-mate Danyon Hume to go from first to last before falling, as Grondal and Simon Lambert shared the points.

Ostergaard became the first man to defeat Schlein in Heat 9 before Lunna pounced to get the better of Haertel for a vital third place in the next as King overhauled Palm Toft up-front.

Then came the only 5-1 of the night, secured in Panthers’ favour from Nicholls and Grondal, and from there the visitors held the edge with great determination.

Bacon and Lunna packed the places behind Schlein in Heat 12, and Nicholls and Ostergaard performed likewise over Covatti in the next, behind Witches skipper King.

Lambert was a faller in Heat 14, causing Palm Toft to race solo for the Panthers, and an intelligent cut-back at the start of the second lap saw him get the better of both Cameron Heeps and Connor Mountain for the 3-3 his side needed.

And once again they had to do it the hard way in Heat 15 as King and Schlein showed first – but whilst King took the win, Nicholls moved inside Schlein and forced an error which also enabled Palm Toft to follow him through for third and complete a remarkable result.

Panthers boss Carl Johnson said: “We’re absolutely over the moon. Our attitude was absolutely right from the word go, and the boys worked hard and pulled together to get the result we deserved in the end.

“It’s always a tough meeting at Ipswich, but we got to grips with the track and everyone was excellent, Ulrich and Tofty especially and then Scott came through at the pressure points for us.

“The 5-1 came at a very important time. I said to Ged (Rathbone) that the meeting was there for the taking, and it was up to us to really grasp it. The opportunity was there, and thankfully the boys did what they needed to do.

“When you looked at the line-up for Heat 15 it couldn’t really get any stronger and Danny and Rory popped out of the start and were on a 5-1 for them.

“Scotty and Tofty were chasing them down and Scott got up the inside of Rory, who made a little mistake. Scott was hard but fair on him and Rory admitted he made a mistake, and that gave Tofty the opportunity to capitalise, which he did. It’s a brilliant result for us.”

CHAMPIONSHIP SHIELD
IPSWICH 44: Danny King 14, Rory Schlein 11, Michael Hartel 5+1, Cameron Heeps 5+1, Nico Covatti 5, Connor Mountain 3+1, Danyon Hume 1+1
PETERBOROUGH 46: Michael Palm Toft 11+1, Ulrich Ostergaard 10+1, Scott Nicholls 8+1, Emil Grondal 6+1, Tom Bacon 5, Nike Lunna 3+2, Simon Lambert 3
Championship Shield points: Ipswich 0 Peterborough 3

Picture: STEPHEN WALLER

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