Peterborough hopes of a decent cup run for the first time in 6 years took another blow with this surprising first leg defeat at the Showground.
After last weeks showing, Panthers were looking to take a decent lead to Brandon for the second leg tomorrow, but it all went horribly wrong mid match and they were well beaten by a Bees side who were consistently sharper out of the traps.
It all started off perfectly with Kenneth Bjerre and partner Ales Dryml making dream starts, and although Chris Harris pushed hard for the entire race he never looked like catching the home pair.
Jordan Frampton and Filip Sitera looked to have made amends when they were the quicker away in heat 2, but then first Lee Complin and then Rene Bach squeezed by Sitera who ended up finishing last despite leading the race in the early stages.
Edward Kennett and Oliver Allen levelled the scores with a well taken maximum in heat 3, with early signs that this was going to be one of those nights when Claus Vissing pulled up with machine problems whilst initially holding second place.
Rory Schlein held off a determined Niels Kristian Iversen to win the fourth and Coventry put themselves into the lead with a well taken 4-2 in the 5th as Harris held off a late challenge from Mads Korneliussen.
Things didn’t look much better in the 6th as Schlein and Frampton made the better starts to lead, but Bjerre went round the outside of the Coventry pair and with Dryml getting up and passing Frampton it was all square again at 18 points apiece.
Iversen after again missing the start in heat 7 went after and passed Kennett early on, but even though he put everything into catching Allen, he just came up short with Allen just holding on.
Panthers levelled the match again with a superb race victory in the 8th whilst Rene Bach won several fans with his efforts as he chased and caught Sitera to make the race a Panthers home advantage.
Coventry were not about to let the match slip away and they raised the stakes with 4-2,s in heats 9 and 11 either side of a shared heat 10, with Harris’s win over Iversen in the 11th one of the best racing races seen this year at the Showground.
Bach enforced an early interval when he collapsed the air fence on the 3rd turn in heat 12, and Korneliussen won the re run after the break when the fence had been restored.
Any real hopes of a Panthers resurrection were well and truly upset in heat 13 as Bjerre,s clutch bolts went as he lined up for the start and he was ruled out under the 2 minute rule, with Coventry taking full advantage to register their second maximum of the match and open up an 8 point lead.
Kennett sealed the Bees victory with a comfortable victory in the 14th, whilst Panthers finished as they started with a maximum in the last race to halve the Bees lead to 4 points going into the second leg.
Several of the home stars voiced concerns over the track at the press conference afterwards and it’s fair to say they had several machinery problems on the night, but they were constantly beaten out of the starts by the Bees and the statistic of 5 race wins from 15 races tells the story fairly well.
Team Manager Trevor Swales said: “Coventry were jumping out of the starts and fair play to them, we did have some problems with machinery amongst the team and I hate losing but that’s speedway and they were better than us on the night”.
Panthers haven’t managed to get past the first round in this competition since 2003 and to avoid this fate again will have to produce an outstanding performance at Brandon tomorrow.