Team boss em­bar­rassed by sham­bolic per­for­mance

Ty­ne­side tonk­ing

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Sport -

NEW­CAS­TLE 59 PANTHERS 34

Of­fi­cial club web­sites tend to be the or­ange squash of the sports me­dia.

They are usu­ally the places where wa­tered down con­tent can be found with bad per­for­mances more of­ten than not be­ing put down to bad luck, or an­other such ex­cuse.

So the pres­ence of the word ‘embarrassing’ in a head­line on the of­fi­cial Panthers site last Sun­day night was both a re­fresh­ing sur­prise and a sign of a se­ri­ously be­low-par dis­play.

And team boss Carl John­son’s mood as he pulled out of Brough Park for the long trip back down the A1 was a fur­ther in­di­ca­tion of that. His post-meet­ing rant also in­cluded the word ‘sham­bolic’ and ques­tions re­gard­ing the ef­fort and com­mit­ment of cer­tain rid­ers.

He had wit­nessed his side claim just one heat ad­van­tage dur­ing a dis­mal show­ing which left their place in the play-off zone in jeop­ardy - and even that ar­rived when num­ber one Craig Cook was de­ployed on a tac­ti­cal ride.

That heat 11 vic­tory, worth dou­ble-points, was one of three pro­vided by Cook as the World Cup sil­ver medal­ist did ev­ery­thing ex­pected of him, rack­ing up 14 points de­spite suf­fer­ing a re­tire­ment in the fi­nal race.

Mid­dle-or­der man Niko­laj Busk Jakob­sen and re­serve Ash­ley Mor­ris did also take one race win apiece on their way to seven-point hauls, but the re­main­ing four Panthers rid­ers could man­age only six points be­tween them.

Skip­per Ul­rich Oster­gaard en­dured a per­sonal night­mare with a crash fol­lowed by a tapes ex­clu­sion and a ma­jor me­chan­i­cal fault in his open­ing three races - the lat­ter in­ci­dent oc­cur­ring on the fi­nal lap of heat nine when he looked set to tri­umph. Oster­gaard was prob­a­bly re­lieved to get through his fi­nal ride in heat 13 with­out in­ci­dent, even if it did re­sult in a last place and fin­ish­ing the night on 2+1.

Zdenek Holub was an­other man to ex­pe­ri­ence a hic­cup when in front. He lost his steel shoe when lead­ing a re-run of heat four and had to set­tle for sec­ond place. The Czech racer be­gan brightly to col­lect 3+1 be­fore fad­ing in his fi­nal two rides.

But Panthers’ ma­jor weak­ness was in the main body of the team where Tom Perry could only man­age a soli­tary point and Emil Gr o nd al failed to score in his first visit to the North-East venue.

And, with Panthers hav­ing fallen to fifth place in the stand­ings with just five meet­ings of the reg­u­lar sea­son re­main­ing, they can ill af­ford to fluff their lines again.

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