Speedway: Sheffield Tigers 45 Peterborough Panthers 45 - Stead so close to fairytale return
Sheffield suffered last-gasp heartache as they were held by Peterborough in dramatic circumstances at Owlerton.
Simon Stead looked set to complete a fairytale return to the Tigers before an engine failure whilst leading a tense heat 15 decider saw the visitors snatch a 45-45 draw.
The inspirational skipper – making his first appearance for his hometown club since his horrific crash at Rye House in April last year – had been in stunning form all night for his hometown club.
Yet disaster struck on the second lap of the final race after he had hit the front – and although partner Kyle Howarth came within a whisker of taking back victory for the Tigers it was not to be.
Stead had quickly allayed any fears he may take some time to get up to speed as he raced to a classy victory alongside flying Frenchman Dimitri Berge in the opening race.
Although the visitors drew level with a maximum of their own in heat five, Stead prevailed in a breathtaking battle with Nicklas Porsing in heat six to snatch first place on the final bend and restore their narrow advantage.
However, they were dealt their first slice of misfortune as the impressive Berge suffered bike troubles when leading heat eight to gift Peterborough a 5-1 before Michael Palm Toft pulled off a last-gasp pass to condemn Stead to his first defeat of the night in heat 10.
Despite flying wins for Kyle Howarth, Stead and Josh Bates, the hosts were unable to make any further inroads as they held a slender two point lead heading into a last-race decider.
They were punished in cruel fashion at the death when Stead’s bike ground to a halt when he was on course for a comfortable win.
Whilst it was a disappointing result on home shale, there were plenty of encouraging signs for the Owlerton outfit as some dreadful misfortune made the difference against a Peterborough side tipped to challenge for top honours in the Premier League this season.
Stead’s welcome return was the notable highlight, but Howarth and Berge also continued their strong starts to life with the Tigers whilst young gun Bates enjoyed his best performance of the season so far.
The Tigers will now aim to bounce back to winning ways as they travel to Ipswich on Saturday (7.30) before hosting Scunthorpe at Owlerton next Thursday (7.30).
SHEFFIELD 45: Simon Stead 10, Kyle Howarth 9+2, Josh Bates 8, Ricky Wells 8, Dimitri Berge 6+1, Richard Hall 4, Nathan Greaves 0.
PETERBOROUGH 45: Ulrich Ostergaard 11, Emil Grondal 8+1, Nikolaj Busk Jacobsen 8, Simon Lambert 6+2, Michael Palm Toft 4+2, Nicklas Porsing 4+2, Tom Perry 4+1.