Berwick Bandits: Enchanting evening in store at Shielfield.

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A week can be a very long time in speedway, writes Lawrence Heppell.

Berwick’s speedway Bandits – sponsored by A & J Scott Ltd of Wooperton – were in rampant form last Saturday as they racked up a seasons-best 65-28 win over Redcar Bears, but seven days on (Saturday, May 19, 7pm) find themselves facing a very tough test against the title-tipped Ipswich Witches!

“Last week we had our full seven-man squad on parade, and they simply swamped Redcar.” observed Berwick co-promoter Dennis McCleary last night.

“But on Saturday, we’ll be two men short and have another two riders with injury worries. If ever we needed our supporters to get behind us in what should be a classic encounter against the very-attractive Witches, this is the time!”

The A & J Scott Bandits find themselves victims of their own successful team-building, with both Alex Edberg and David Bellego required to race in World U-21 Championship qualifiers this weekend.

“David will be at Blijham, in the Netherlands and Alex races in Denmark at Randers.” confirmed team manager Ian Rae, “Not having them on Saturday night of all nights will make it tough – but having a tough match is a small price to pay for having recruited such talented teenagers!”

In addition, both Jason King (who suffered Grade 1 concussion after crashing out of last Saturday’s big win) and Czech star Lubos Tomicek, who damaged knee ligaments in the same incident were at first thought to be ‘doubtful’ about racing again so soon – but both the battered Bandits have declared themselves fit to ride, especially since they know the team is already short-handed.

“We are limited to the rider-replacement regulation to cover David’s heats,” explained Rae.

“To replace Alex, we will bring in young Australian Rob Branford, the son of one-time Edinburgh rider Darrel Branford, at reserve.”

Ipswich will also be missing two riders, but are hardly weakened by the inclusion of Edinburgh captain Matty Wethers as a guest in place of Dakota North (also in an U-21 qualifier overseas) and will go to rider-replacement for the races programmed to long-term injury victim Taylor Poole.

Team line-ups for Saturday

BERWICK: 1. Ricky Ashworth (England), 2. Lubos Tomicek (Czech Republic), 3. Lee Complin (captain, England), 4. Rider-replacement for David Bellego (France), 5. Seb Alden (Sweden), 6. Robert Branford (Australia – guest), 7. Jason King (England)

IPSWICH: 1. Leigh Lanham (England), 2. Rider-replacement for Taylor Poole (Australia), 3. Kevin Doolan (capt, Australia), 4. Matty Wethers (Australia – guest), 5. Matt Tresarrieu (France), 6. Cameron Heeps (Australia), 7. Rohan Tungate (Australia).