Berwick Bandits maintain home run in League Cup

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Berwick Bandits 50

Sheffield Tigers 39

LEAGUE CUP

THE Berwick Bandits returned to domestic speedway last night at Shielfield Park with a fine League Cup battle and win against the Sheffield Tigers despite a slow start from the home lads.

The visitors were desperate for points in order to overhaul the Newcastle Diamonds who were in second place in the League Cup table (North) and qualify for the semi finals along with group winners, Workington.

The Bandits however are currently unbeaten in home matches in all competitions so far and were equally determined to keep that record intact.

Former Sheffield Tiger Ricky Ashworth took a brilliant pass round Hugh Skidmore coming off bend two but behind James Wright did likewise to Lubos Tomicek half a lap later in the 3-3 result, but the Bandits’ number one seemed concerned about the power he was – or more like wasn’t getting from his machine.

The Tigers’ reserves jetted away from the gate in Heat Two, but it wasn’t until the last lap that Jason King wound on the power and shocked Emiliano Sanchez passing him off the last bend of the race to restrict the Sheffield advantage to a 2-4, the visitors now 5-7 ahead.

Come Heat Four King was again challenging hard for a point from Sanchez but the Bandits rear wheel just nudged the Argentinean from Sheffield who went down, stopping the race with King’s exclusion from the three man re-run, in which Seb Alden took the win in the shared race.

Bandits bounced back into the lead with a spectacular second bend in Heat Five with Complin moving wide round Skidmore and King diving under him to form a superb 5-1, taking the score-line to 16-14.

Sanchez and King clashed again on the fourth bend in Heat Eight, but the roles were reversed with the Tiger coming hard under the Bandit who ended up hitting the fence at speed. This time Sanchez was excluded from the re-run with King taking time to get back together but managed a fine paid win behind Tomicek as part of a home maximum as the Bandits took the lead again 26-22.

An ailing pair of bikes in Heat 10 saw Tomicek grind to a halt on the first lap and then Ashworth was visibly slowing on the last laps with guest from Newcastle Christian Henry taking a determined and big win over his partner Wells for a Sheffield 1-5 taking the visitors into a 29-31 lead.

Wright locked up right in front of King in Heat 11 with the following Bandit just glancing a blow off the stricken Tiger. The race was halted and awarded a 5-0 to the Bandits which reversed the match status a lead for Berwick 34-31.

Ashworth all night had suffered with dodgy engine trouble but with Complin well out in front in Heat 13, Ashworth made a brilliant pass under Joe Haines to take a vital 5-1 pushing the home side’s lead to 42-35.

A superb first bend from maximum-man Alden pushed the Tigers wide in Heat 15 with Complin taking a solid third ahead of Henry the Bandits took all three points in a fine win, 50-39.

Team boss Ian Rae was satisfied with what he’d seen, but didn’t enjoy too much confidence early on, saying: “Before the meeting I though it was going to be tight, but with Berwick having to play catch-up early on and with the scores still tied after Heat Seven confidence of a good win was running a little thin.

“But with Lubos and Jay taking the five in the eighth I could see the potential was still alive and come Heat 13 we hit hard at just the right time. It was especially pleasing to see Jason getting hard in the thick of the action tonight proving his improvement is getting better every week.”