PETERBOROUGH built a ten-point lead over Glasgow to leave their SGB Championship KO Cup semi-final well-poised after the first leg.
The Panthers won 50-40 at the East of England Arena on Sunday to set up an exciting return clash at Ashfield tomorrow.
Reserve ace Simon Lambert, who brilliantly won his opening four races on his way to a 14+1 haul, and former British champion Chris Harris, who dropped his only point when beaten by visiting number one Richard Lawson in heat 13, were the star performers for Peterborough.
Lawson and Richie Worrall (10) led the damage limitation for the Tigers, who scored an important hat-trick of 4-2s in the closing stages.
Panthers owner Ged Rathbone said: “The target was to ensure we go to Glasgow for the second leg with a lead. Any sort of advantage is pleasing against such a strong team.
“All the pressure is on Glasgow as they have to pull the points back on their track and in front of their fans. We’re ready for a battle and we will do all we can to reach the Final.”
Glasgow boss Stewart Dickson said: “They were 14 points ahead at one point and would have been looking to put more on top of that at one stage - and we were trying to keep it at that - but I think ten is a strange one because you're not quite sure if it's enough.
"But I think it keeps the tie very much alive for both teams, which is a good thing. We always wanted our score to be starting with a four and we got that, but we have still got to get 51 points, which is going to be tough against them.”
Meanwhile Newcastle raced to a 54-38 home win over champions Sheffield in a remaining regular league fixture at Brough Park.
Home skipper Ludvig Lindgren was in fine form on his way to a 14-point haul, dropping his only point to Tigers guest Scott Nicholls (11) in Heat 15, whilst Steve Worrall added 12+1 for the Diamonds.
Newcastle boss George English said: “That was a good win for us over the team that won the league just a week or two ago and we're delighted with that result as the lads all dug deep and got good points.”
Sheffield co-promoter Peter Mole said: “It's been tough without Josh Grajczonek and Kyle as it is but then to lose Josh Bates in the build-up to the meeting made our task even more difficult.
"We had too long a tail with a couple of riders really struggling for points and when you're already running rider replacement, you can't afford to have any passengers unfortunately.”
MILDENHALL ran up a 53-37 home win over Belle Vue in the first leg of their National League KO Cup semi-final at West Row.
But the Colts were certainly satisfied by the events of Heat 15 when Rob Shuttleworth and guest Mitchell Davey carded a vital 5-1 when the Fen Tigers were seeking to confirm an advantage of more than 20 points.
Connor Mountain led the way for the hosts with 14, whilst Jon Armstrong (12+3) and youngsters Drew Kemp (12+1) and Jordan Jenkins (12) also impressed, whilst Shuttleworth carded 11+1 for the Colts and Davey added 9+3.
Mildenhall promoter Kevin Jolly said: “It was disappointing to lose that last heat, but I have to praise the lads again today for another performance of real character and a sixteen point lead gives us something to really work with on Friday.
“Connor, Jon and Jordan keep producing the goods and in young Drew we have a real diamond who can be our wildcard at Belle Vue.”
Colts co-boss Graham Goodwin said: “Really it was a case of damage control from the start, which was not unexpected especially considering we were without Dan (Bewley), Jack (Smith), Lee (Payne) and sadly Andy (Mellish) too.
“Mildenhall have a well-established home advantage and they’re not easy to beat, particularly when you have to do it with only half your regular team. But as always, our guys did their best.
“We would have liked to have kept things closer and for a time things looked somewhat bleak, but that 5-1 in Heat 15 certainly put everyone in a better mood and gave us hope for the second leg.”
Meanwhile Buxton moved off the bottom of the National League table with a hard-fought 49-40 win over Plymouth at the Hi-Edge Raceway.
The match turned on successive Hitmen 5-1s in Heats 12 and 13, the former race seeing the Devils camp angered by a disqualification for Henry Atkins after a first-bend incident.
Top two Max Clegg (12+1) and Matt Williamson (12) led the way for the hosts, whilst guest Ben Morley picked up 10 for the Devils.
Plymouth boss Laurence Rogers said: “The boys gave it their all. Credit where it is due to Ben Morley, who broke down en route and hired a van to get there to ride. That dedication is much appreciated.
“Young Jason Edwards had an excellent National League debut and will remember winning his first ride, and he was in the mix all day and ended with paid 10.
“Henry’s controversial exclusion was the turning point. His leg was clearly taken away, and credit to James Hitchen who came over to him and apologised, but everyone agreed all four back would have been the fairest decision. Then in heat 13 we were expecting a restart as both Buxton riders jumped the start but were allowed to race on - those two races put the meeting beyond our reach.”
BELLE Vue skipper Craig Cook has been ruled out of tonight’s (Monday) SGB Premiership KO Cup Final clash with Wolverhampton.
Cook missed the Championship Riders’ Individual on Saturday due to illness and is now serving a 7-day period of inactivity, and with Max Fricke also on the sidelines the Aces have called in Chris Harris as a guest.
Wolves, who are defending a 10-point lead from the first leg, remain without four of their top five due to injuries with Scott Nicholls, Richard Lawson and Richie Worrall coming in to guest.
Aces star Steve Worrall said: “We’ve got a bit of work to do before we can say we’ve earned that trophy but we’re quite prepared to put in the effort and do what we’ve got to do to give ourselves a fighting chance.
“Obviously we’d like to have had both Max and Craig with us but circumstances have taken that out of our hands. We’re grateful to Chris for stepping in and I’m sure he’ll do a great job for us.
“We’ve worked so hard all season, so to fall at this last hurdle would be heart-breaking. We know we deserve something to show for our efforts and the Knockout Cup would be just such a prize.”
Wolves reserve Nathan Greaves said: “It’s going to be tough, but we’ve got to go there and believe we can win it.
“It would be a great way to end the season, by winning the Cup, and I think we deserve it after how close we came in the league.
“Obviously we’ve got a lot of injury problems but I think they’ll be missing riders as well, so hopefully we can do enough.”
JIM Lynch insists the job is still only half done as Leicester look to secure SGB Premiership survival tonight (Monday).
The Lions host second tier champions Sheffield at Beaumont Park with a big 26-point cushion from their stunning display in South Yorkshire a week ago.
But boss Lynch said: “I’m not taking anything for granted although obviously we’re in a good position.
“We’ve got a job to do and that’s what I’ll be telling the guys, but I’m also a realist and I know we should see it through with races to spare.”
Michael Palm Toft, Cameron Heeps and James Sarjeant step in for the Lions, who are without Kyle Newman after a crash last week, whilst Nick Morris takes the guest booking at No.1 for the Tigers, who also include Ty Proctor with Josh Bates now on the sidelines.
Sheffield boss Simon Stead said: “We were under no illusions that this was always going to be tough; I don’t care what other people say, there was always still a big gap between the top two leagues and last Monday proved that.
“Premiership reserves are solid Championship heat-leaders in the main and that’s where the key differences come yet alone the stronger No.1s they have.
“But being away from home this week, there’s less pressure, less expectation from everyone else so hopefully our makeshift side can go out there, try and enjoy their racing for the night and hopefully walk away with something of a more respectable scoreline.”
CRADLEY welcome back skipper Tom Perry for their final National League fixture of the season against Eastbourne at Monmore Green tonight (Monday).
After suffering rib and arm injuries while on Premiership guesting duty at the start of September, it was thought Perry's season was over, but he has declared himself fit to race against the Eagles.
Cradley have also booked Kent racer Ben Hopwood to stand-in for Danny Ayres, who remains ruled out on medical grounds, while exciting, talented teen Jason Edwards comes in at reserve, and Richard Hall is also on the sidelines.
Heathens co-promoter Gary Patchett said: “We know there's nothing riding on the meeting as such but we're desperate to finish off with a win.
“We've had our fair share of injury problems and rider absences in the past month or so but we're able to track a very strong team on Monday and one that is more than capable of picking up a victory.
“Eastbourne are Grand Finalists this year too so it should be a very competitive night of racing.”
MONDAY OCTOBER 16:
PREMIERSHIP KO CUP FINAL 2nd leg: Belle Vue v Wolverhampton 7.30
PROMOTION/RELEGATION RACE-OFF 2nd leg: Leicester v Sheffield 7.30
TRAVEL PLUS NATIONAL LEAGUE: Cradley v Eastbourne 7.30
TUESDAY OCTOBER 17:
CHAMPIONSHIP KO CUP S/F 2nd leg: Glasgow v Peterborough 7.30
WEDNESDAY OCTOBER 18:
TRAVEL PLUS NATIONAL LEAGUE GRAND FINAL 2nd leg: Belle Vue v Eastbourne 7.30
Results Sunday October 15, 2017;
Newcastle 54 (Ludvig Lindgren 14)
Sheffield 38 (Scott Nicholls 11)
SGB Championship points: Newcastle 3 Sheffield 0
CHAMPIONSHIP KOC SEMI FINAL, 1st leg
Peterborough 50 (Simon Lambert 14+1)
Glasgow 40 (Richard Lawson 10, Richie Worrall 10)
TRAVEL PLUS NATIONAL LEAGUE
Buxton 49 (Max Clegg 12+1)
Plymouth 40 (Ben Morley 10)
National League points: Buxton 3 Plymouth 0
NATIONAL LEAGUE KO CUP SEMI FINAL, 1st leg
Mildenhall 53 (Connor Mountain 14)
Belle Vue 37 (Rob Shuttleworth 11+1)