A Night of Magic - Panthers 48 Reading 45

Tuesday October 10, 2020
Panthers took their fourth League Championship and there second Elite League title with a dramatic last gasp piece of magic to devastate their opponents last night.

Peterborough Panthers 48 Reading Bulldogs 45
Monday 9th October 2006 Elite League Play Off Final 2nd Leg

Panthers win 95-94 on aggregate

Panthers took their fourth League Championship and there second Elite League title with a dramatic last gasp piece of magic to devastate their opponents last night.

Make no mistake Reading had done their job well in the early heats and looked odds on favourites to win the title as they consistently out trapped the Panthers in the first 12 heats and were cruising to success. But as the saying goes, ‘When the going gets tough the tough get going’ and with Hans Andersen, Ryan Sullivan & Richard Hall all seeming to step up a gear the tough got going very well, but boy did they leave it to the last minute.

After losing the toss for gate positions Andersen jetted away to win heat 1, but Piotr Swiderski after a collision with Travis McGowan came off on turn 2 and the Bulldogs filled the minor positions.Hall comfortably won heat 2 and with Ulrich Ostergaard third Panthers had the lead.

Janusz Kolodziej made a very fast start in Heat 3 and Niels Kristian Iversen and Sullivan were unable to make any inroads on him. Greg Hancock took the rider-replacement for Reading’s missing number 2 Matej Zagar in heat 4 but it was Reading reserve Sam Simota who surprised everyone as he gated with Hancock and the Bulldogs took a surprise 5-1.

You could tell tensions were high as Hancock touched the tapes in heat 5 and was excluded but Travis McGowan rose to the occasion and after another very fast start was away, with Sullivan and Iversen trailing in his wake.

Hopes were high that Panthers could get something back in heat 6 but Kolodziej in as rider-replacement had other ideas and another jet propelled start ensured another drawn heat and left Reading leading by 2 pts.

Disaster struck for Panthers star Jesper B Jensen in heat 7 as his bike stalled on the line as the Bulldogs pair went clear, but Kolodiej got a puncture and was powerless to prevent Hall passing him. Panthers now though, were now 4 points down.

Heat 8 saw Hall in for Ostergaard and it was close going into the first bend, but then Hall picked up speed exiting the second bend and went into the side of McGowan who went into the fence and in doing so his bike wiped out team mate Simota and caused Swiderski to fall as well. In the re-run Bulldogs took a 5-1 through McGowan & Mark Lemon as Simota took an ambulance ride with a suspected broken collarbone, Hall queried the refere’s decision to exclude him but after numerous replays on Sky Sports it appeared to be a fair decision by the referee.

Sullivan and Iversen managed to reduce the deficit to 6 by taking a 4-2 in heat 9, but Lemon stunned the home crowd by storming away to win heat 10 with Andersen third after a mix up on the first bend. Heat 11 didn’t look too promising with the struggling Jensen and Richard Hall up against Hancock and McGowan but despite the Bulldogs making the gate, both Panthers managed to pass McGowan fairly easily, perhaps too easily as Reading maintained their 6 point lead.

Heat 12 arrived and Lemon & Kolodziej took a maximum 5-1 over Iversen & Ostergaard to put Panthers on the ropes, but of course we were now in the tactical arena, and as Peterborough have proved in the past, they are the comeback kings.

In heat 13 Andersen gated brilliantly to leave everyone for dead, but the race was at the back as Hall duelled with McGowan for 4 laps before catching him at the death in a race for the line. It was still game on as Panthers needed two 5-1’s to win the title.

Heat 14 had Sullivan and Hall up against Gjedde and Lemon, and although Sullivan did his usual trip around the boards to leap into the lead, Hall was stranded at the back. Hall attempted to go around Lemon on the home straight, but Lemon lifted and this left Hall with nowhere to go but into the fence and he spilled alarmingly. Referee Ronnie Allen excluded Lemon and after a long delay the race was re-run. Sullivan again went clear at the front but Gjedde made a good start and was holding second, but Hall was clearly fired up and chased him down for 2 laps before passing him and pulling clear, much to the delight of the home fans who went wild as they crossed the finishing line.

So after 29 races it was all down to the last heat with Panthers needing a 5-1 to take the title, with any other result presenting the title to Reading. Panthers nominated Andersen & Sullivan and Reading, who won the toss, went with Hancock & Kolodziej.

Andersen made a brilliant gate to lead into the first corner, but Sullivan off gate 4 went wide and went around everyone, and Andersen then ensured the task was complete by pegging Hancock back to third place, although the American tried every thing to get level on terms. The whole place erupted as they went over the line as Panthers against all the odds had pulled back 13 points over the last 3 heats to win the tie by 1 point on aggregate.

It was unbelievable stuff and you had to see it to realise what had happened but it took a while to sink in as most fans thought we had lost it especially after heat 12. Love it or hate it, the tactical ride can turn matches around quickly, but you had to feel sorry for Reading as they rode well in both legs and must have been gutted to lose it after having one hand on the trophy.

Not all of the Panthers got amongst the points with Jensen clearly having a poor night, but all of this team have played an important part during the season and have all contributed well at one time or another.

Colin Horton and Team Manager Trevor Swales were absolutely delighted and heaped praise on all the team afterwards for a job well done. I can tell you the celebrations went on until the early hours! Sky Sports were clearly over the moon with the final as it unfolded and the meeting played out in front of an enormous crowd, estimated to have exceeded 6,000 fans.

Peterborough Panthers = 48 (95)
1. Hans Andersen 3, 2, 1', 6!, 2' = 14+2
2. Piotr Swiderski 0, 1', 1, 2 = 4+1
3. Niels Kristian Iversen 2, 1', 1', 1 = 5+2
4. Ryan Sullivan 1', 2, 3, 3, 3 = 12+1
5. Jesper B Jensen 1, e/f, 1' = 2+1
6. Richard Hall 3, 2, X, 2, 1, 2' = 10+1
7. Ulrich Ostergaard 1, 0, 0 = 1

Reading Bulldogs = 45 (94)
1. Greg Hancock 2, 3, T, 3, 2, 1 = 11
2. Travis McGowan 1', 3, 3, 0, 0 = 7+1
3. Janusz Kolodziej 3, 3, 1, e/f, 2', 0 = 9+1
4. Charlie Gjedde 0, 3, 0, M, 1 = 4
5. Matej Zagar R/R
6. Mark Lemon 2, F, 2', 2, 3, 3, X = 12+1
7. Zdenek Simota 0, 2', 0, N = 2+1 (withdrawn injured)

Heat Details
Heat 01: Andersen, Hancock, McGowan, Swiderski fell 3-3
Heat 02: Hall, Lemon, Ostergaard, Simota 4-2 7-5
Heat 03: Re-run Kolodziej, Iversen, Sullivan, Gjedde 3-3 10-8
Heat 04: Hancock, Simota, Jensen, Ostergaard 1-5 11-13
Heat 05: McGowan, Sullivan, Iversen, Simota 3-3 14-16
Heat 06: Kolodziej, Andersen, Swiderski, Lemon fell 3-3 17-19
Heat 07: Gjedde, Hall, Kolodizej, Jensen 2-4 19-23
Heat 08: (Re-Run) McGowan, Lemon, Swiderski 1-5 20-28
Heat 09: Sullivan, Lemon, Iversen, Gjedde 4-2 24-30
Heat 10: Lemon, Swiderski, Andersen, Kolodziej 3-3 27-33
Heat 11: Hancock, Hall, Jensen, McGowan 3-3 30-36
Heat 12: Lemon, Kolodziej, Iversen, Ostergaard 1-5 31-41
Heat 13: ANDERSEN, Hancock, Hall, McGowan 7-2 38-43
Heat 14: (Re-Run) Sullivan, Hall, Gjedde 5-1 43-44
Heat 15: Sullivan, Andersen, Hancock, Kolodziej 5-1 48-45

Report by Dick Butler

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