Thursday May 03, 2018
SHEFFIELD were forced to settle for a point in a 45-45 draw with Peterborough after a tight contest at Owlerton on Thursday.

The Window Centre Tigers were never able to shake off the Panthers, who secured 4-2s in each of the last two races to go away the happier of the two sides after the Championship encounter.

Sheffield’s Charles Wright looked to have done enough to see the home side through by winning a race-of-the-season contender in Heat 10, but the withdrawal of captain Kyle Howarth and a tough night for temporary signing Jan Graversen proved costly.

Already suffering from last week’s accident, Howarth suffered a twisted knee and was only able to take two rides – retiring from Heat 1 in which the Panthers banked maximum points, and then pulling out of the meeting after finishing third in Heat 6.

The visitors took the lead three times in the first half of the contest, with Sheffield reserves James Shanes and Jack Smith notching a 5-1 in Heat 2 to cancel out the early reverse.

A Panthers 4-2 headed up by Emil Grondal in Heat 5 put them back ahead, only for Todd Kurtz to pass Ulrich Ostergaard on the last lap of the next race to level the scores again.

Michael Palm Toft squeezed inside Wright on the first lap of Heat 7 as the visitors edged ahead once more, before Kurtz and Shanes slammed in a Heat 8 5-1 to put Tigers ahead for the first time.

With the lead at four points, Wright produced a truly memorable Heat 10 effort to first go past Palm Toft and then reel in and dive inside Nike Lunna on the last bend for a tremendous victory.

Although he couldn’t quite get the better of Scott Nicholls in Heat 11, Wright then passed the former British Champion on the outside in Heat 13 with Lasse Bjerre’s third place sending Tigers into the last two races two points up.

But they were unable to maintain the advantage as Palm Toft headed Shanes in Heat 14 with Simon Lambert snatching third place from Graversen.

And with Tigers needing a 3-3 from the last-heat decider, Bjerre was squeezed out on turn one, and although Wright quickly cleared Palm Toft, the gap to Nicholls was just too great as the Panthers squared the meeting.

Sheffield boss Simon Stead said: “Obviously it feels like a loss, but it isn’t, and we have a few difficulties at the moment. They pushed us hard, they’re a good team and we aren’t at full strength by any stretch of the imagination.

“We don’t have any excuses, we have to work with what we’ve got, and we have to do a better job.

“Kyle twisted his knee tonight which is not ideal, but I think that’s a consequence of riding when not fully fit, and I do think with a fit Kyle and with Jan having a meeting under his belt, that result wouldn’t have happened.

“Peterborough caught us on a bad day and made us pay, but the reality is we haven’t lost. A draw is frustrating, but we need to pick ourselves us up for Glasgow.

“I have to add that Charles has been superb for us this season. He’s been faultless, he’s given it 100 per cent wherever we’ve gone and he’s been full value on every track.

“Personally, I’d like him to make it easier for me by getting out of the start, but I suppose I was guilty of that in my racing career as well, so I’m probably getting it back there! He’s been great, and we do have plenty of positives.”

SHEFFIELD 45: Charles Wright 14, Lasse Bjerre 12, James Shanes 9+2, Todd Kurtz 7, Jack Smith 2+1, Kyle Howarth 1, Jan Graversen 0
PETERBOROUGH 45: Scott Nicholls 12, Michael Palm Toft 9+2, Nike Lunna 7, Ulrich Ostergaard 7, Emil Grondal 6+1, Tom Bacon 2+1, Simon Lambert 2
Championship points: Sheffield 1 Peterborough 2

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