Pan­thers down but not with­out a fight

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - World of Sport - by MARK PLUM­MER­ter­bor­oughto­

THIS was a case of so near, yet so far.

Pan­thers pro­duced their best away dis­play since the open­ing day of the sea­son in front of the Sky TV cam­eras, but they still headed home empty-handed.

They pushed Wolver­hamp­ton to the limit around their Mon­more Green base, only sur­ren­der­ing a chance of vic­tory in the penul­ti­mate con­test and then ag­o­nis­ingly missing out on a con­so­la­tion point in the fi­nale.

Krzysztof Buczkowski (muchim­proved from his first visit to the Mid­lands arena last month) and Rory Sch­lein were the men to be squeezed out when bring­ing up the rear in the fi­nal two races.

But this was very much a step in the right di­rec­tion for a team who paid the price for con­ced­ing a cou­ple of poor 5-1 max­i­mums go­ing into the fi­nal third.

And then a bold gam­ble to throw in num­ber eight Craig Cook for his only ap­pear­ance of the night in heat 11 back­fired as Pan­thers came up just short.

Cook was called upon de­spite top-scorer Ken­neth Bjerre be­ing on a tac­ti­cal ride and in need of strong back-up.

“But the lads gave it a re­ally good go and we were in con­tention right to the bit­ter end at a very tough place,” pointed out team man­ager Trevor Swales, the man be­hind that de­ci­sion to de­ploy Cook.

This was grip­ping stuff through­out as the very real threat of tor­ren­tial rain held off.

The best rider in the Elite League had the edge over one of the best rid­ers in the world in heat one as home tal­is­man Fred­die Lind­gren dashed down the in­side of Pan­thers’ stand-in skip­per Bjerre on the open­ing lap.

Lind­gren clearly isn’t run­ning on a 10-point plus av­er­age for no rea­son but Buczkowski packed in for mi­nor hon­ours as the spoils were shared.

And that proved the only time a home rider low­ered the colours of Bjerre who clearly had the bit be­tween his teeth af­ter be­ing eclipsed at the head of the World Cham­pi­onship at the week­end.

Re­serve Mat Tre­sar­rieu found him­self rac­ing from a 15-me­tre hand­i­cap af­ter rolling into the

AN­OTHER GREAT EF­FORT: But Ken­neth Bjerre at his best wasn’t enough to earn Pan­thers vic­tory. tapes at the start of heat two, but Pan­thers’ luck soon changed.

Buczkowski rock­eted out of the gate to hit the front and take vic­tory while Tre­sar­rieu was gifted third place when Lud­vig Lind­gren packed up.

Pan­thers packed the mi­nor places in the next when Adam Sko­r­nicki was shut out at the back de­spite a some­what rocky ride from Rory Sch­lein but the nar­row lead was erased in heat four when guest Danny King was sur­pris­ingly stuck at the rear.

Bjerre’s open­ing vic­tory of the night main­tained the deadlock while King was seen in a much bet­ter light in heat six as he held the edge over Fred­die Lind­gren un­til the fi­nal lap – his one re­ally de­cent out­ing of the night as he fin­ished with just three points.

But with Tre­sar­rieu un­sur­pris­ingly off the pace, the hosts claimed a 4-2 to hit the front for the first time. An­other swiftly fol­lowed in an all-ac­tion sev­enth con­test when Wolver­hamp­ton re­serves Matt Wethers ruf­fled the feath­ers of Sch­lein and Troy Batch­e­lor.

The lat­ter res­cued the sit­u­a­tion when dash­ing down the in­side on the run to the line to pip coun­try­man Wethers by half-a-bike length.

Pan­thers made the best of a bad sit­u­a­tion in heat eight to stay in touch as Sch­lein took the flag when on a solo mis­sion in the re-run.

The vis­i­tors had briefly been on a max­i­mum in the ini­tial stag­ing be­fore Buczkowski bailed out in turn three of lap two.

Things soon did go down­hill though as those back-to-back max­i­mums – when the King/Buczkowski and the Sch­lein/Batch­e­lor part­ner­ships were on the re­ceiv­ing end - sent Wolver­hamp­ton speed­ing clear.

But, for once on the road, that wasn’t the cue for Pan­thers to roll over as they ate into a 12-point deficit.

Bjerre made the most of his tac­ti­cal out­ing in heat 11 to re­duce the ar­rears to nine points when con­demn­ing GP ri­val Tai Woffinden to a first de­feat of the night.

And Sch­lein soon pro­vided fur­ther mo­men­tum when div­ing down ‘Karls­son Cor­ri­dor’ (a strip of shale off the in­side of the sec­ond bend) to take the spoils in the next.

Buczkowski bagged third to cut the ar­rears to seven points.

That’s the way it stayed when Bjerre went tapes to flag in heat 13 (also end­ing Fred­die Lind­gren’s un­blem­ished record) and Pan­thers were fi­nally de­nied vic­tory when Buczkowski could find no way past Wethers dur­ing a stun­ning penul­ti­mate race duel.

It was a sim­i­lar story in the last as Pan­thers re­quired a heat ad­van­tage to snatch a point.

Bjerre did his bit way out in front and Sch­lein was all over Woffinden, but at the end of the day it was to no avail

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