An­other point on the road for the Pan­thers

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Etbusiness Daily -

BIRM­ING­HAM ...............47 PAN­THERS ...................43

PAN­THERS may not have won at Perry Barr last night but they’re prov­ing far tougher to beat on their trav­els this year.

From be­ing dis­mal on the road last sea­son, they have picked up at least a point in all three away meet­ings to date in 2012 with a win at King’s Lynn and nar­row de­feats at East­bourne and now Birm­ing­ham.

That se­quence may be put to the test at Elite League lead­ers Lake­side’s tight cir­cuit tonight though, es­pe­cially as skip­per Ken­neth Bjerre will be miss­ing due to him trav­el­ling to Satur­day’s Czech Grand Prix.

Af­ter nearly three weeks with­out a meet­ing due to the re­cent rain­falls, and last night’s was the only one to beat the weather, Pan­thers were a lit­tle slow to find their form last night and ul­ti­mately it was the two 5-1s they con­ceded in the open­ing three heats that cost them dearly.

They bat­tled back im­pres­sively and got within two points of their hosts be­fore a 4-2 in the penul­ti­mate race halted their push for at least a draw.

Pan­thers pro­vided nine of the 15 heat win­ners but sadly they also sup­plied nine of the last-plac­ers so they never re­ally took ad­van­tage of those vic­to­ries.

Bjerre, who will be re­placed by for­mer Pan­thers star Niels Kris­tian Iversen at Lake­side tonight, rat­tled off three wins to top-score while Jesper B Mon­berg, a star of the 2006 ti­tle-win­ning squad, reached dou­ble fig­ures on his first out­ing from the re­serve berth.

Mon­berg dropped down to re­serve fol­low­ing the sen­sa­tional early sea­son form of fel­low Dane Michael Jepsen Jensen - who had scored at least 16 points in all three Pan­thers meet­ings prior to last night - and it is clear co-bosses Jan Staech­mann and Trevor Swales will be re­ply­ing on reg­u­lar big scores from the num­ber seven berth.

This team is set up to score points through­out the side, home and away, and only Richard Law­son failed to record a race win last night.

Jepsen Jensen won’t score so heav­ily from the main body of the team but there is no rea­son why Mon­berg can’t pro­duce these dou­ble-fig­ure scores on a reg­u­lar ba­sis.

Pan­thers were on the re­ceiv­ing end of a 5-1 in the open­ing heat as Bjarne Ped­er­sen blasted away from the traps with Martin Smolin­ski keep­ing Bjerre at bay.

Josh Auty then blasted round the out­side of Mon­berg on the open­ing lap of heat two to take vic­tory.

Thank­fully for­mer Pan­ther To­masz Piszcz, in his first out­ing of the sea­son for the Brum­mies, was trail­ing at the back - as he did for much of his time at Al­wal­ton - so Law­son’s third place en­sured the points were shared.

The hosts had life far too easy next time out as Ben Barker and Hunt­ing­don speed­ster Danny King left Olly Allen, who suf­fered me­chan­i­cal prob­lems through­out the meet­ing, and Jepsen Jensen trail­ing for a sec­ond 5-1 of the night.

But hav­ing failed to pro­vide a heat win­ner in the open­ing three races, Pan­thers sup­plied the next six vic­tors, halv­ing Birm­ing­ham’s lead to four points in the process.

Mon­berg gained re­venge over Auty in a re-run heat four - all four riders be­ing called back af­ter an un­sat­is­fac­tory start with Auty mov­ing be­fore the tapes rose.

Auty gave a de­ter­mined ef­fort in the re-run as Mon­berg proved what an as­set he will be at re­serve, but Li­nus Sund­strom - an­other to ex­pe­ri­ence bike prob­lems be­fore the race even got un­der way - was off the pace.

Pan­thers looked set for their first heat ad­van­tage next time out as Bjerre and Rene Bach blasted away from the tapes but while Bjerre held on to win Bach fell on the sec­ond lap.

An­other shared heat fol­lowed as Sund­strom bat­tled his way past Ped­er­sen to win the sixth in­stal­ment.

Pan­thers threat­ened a 5-1 in heat seven as Jepsen Jensen and Allen hit the front but Seb Ulamek caught the lat­ter on the third lap so the vis­i­tors had to set­tle for a 4-2.

Two more heat ad­van­tages fol­lowed in suc­ces­sion as Pan­thers were now gat­ing well and look­ing ca­pa­ble of com­plet­ing an im­pres­sive fight­back.

Smolin­ski fell on the sec­ond lap and that left Pan­thers with a ‘two ver­sus one’ in the re-run and they took ad­van­tage for an­other 4-2.

Bach just held off the spir­ited Auty with Mon­berg in third and the lat­ter, in to re­place Law­son, fol­lowed up with vic­tory min­utes later in heat nine.

Sund­strom also gated well but was caught at the start of the sec­ond lap by King.

Af­ter three suc­ces­sive 4-2s, Pan­thers knew an­other would bring them level but Ped­er­sen blasted past his fel­low Dane Jepsen Jensen for a 3-3.

Bjerre went so close to bring­ing the scores level in heat 11 but Ulamek just man­aged to keep him at bay, with Bach - who had flown from the tapes - in third for an­other 3-3.

Allen took the hon­ours in heat 12 as the points were again shared, Auty re­cov­er­ing from a poor start to catch Law­son for third be­fore the open­ing lap was over.

A fourth suc­ces­sive stale­mate came in heat 13, Bjerre blast­ing in­side Ulamek to earn a 3-3.

The hosts had now gone 10 races with­out a heat ad­van­tage but they could hardly have ended that se­quence in more timely man­ner as a 4-2 in the penul­ti­mate heat - earned when Auty past Jepsen Jensen for third while Barker coasted to vic­tory - left the Brum­mies within reach of vic­tory.

Bjerre reeled off his third win in a shared final heat as Pan­thers had to set­tle for a sin­gle point

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