Speedway: Dramatic journey ends in defeat for Berwick Bandits

David Bellego's heat one win made the trip worth it
David Bellego's heat one win made the trip worth it

Ipswich “Sackers Witches” 56 Berwick “New Holland Bandits” 37

Premier League

The long, hot trip to Ipswich for the travelling Berwick Bandit supporters ended five minutes into the Premier League match at Foxhall stadium after their coach was hit by heavy debris at Gosforth, shattering it’s windscreen.

A replacement vehicle pushed the weary fans a good 90 minutes behind schedule, but it was all worth it to see Frenchman David Bellego destroy the tough field in Heat One to take the three points ahead of England International Ben Barker in a 3-3 match.

Berwick Bandit’s Supporters’ Club representative Lisa Youngman was keen to praise their coach driver saying: “Our driver was a real hero to get us to the stadium only five minutes late for the start after a traumatic day that had seen him showered in glass only 60 miles into the journey, but once the replacement coach came we couldn’t fault Glenn Valley Coaches who really did all they could for us, and we didn’t even miss one race!

“We also would like to thank the Ipswich promotion who were aware of our plight early on and were aware of our late arrival, and made sure we didn’t miss any of the action.”

Bandits were brought back to Earth in the second heat with the burgeoning talent that is Adam Ellis taking the race easily as injury returnee Nicki Barratt struggling in the race with Paul Stark retiring on the third lap in a home 5-1.

Heat Three was hauled back when Rohan Tungate tried a big outside pass on bend one only to pick up too much drive and almost launch himself into the crowd, crashing instead to the ground to be excluded, whilst in the re-run Morten Risager nearly did the same, but just controlled it but Matthew Wethers was away and took the win in the Berwick 2-4 with guest Ben Morley (in for Robin Aspegren who had unexpectedly been recalled to Sweden for a match three) taking third to push the score to 10-8.

Kozza Smith made a great gate in Heat Four to take a good win over home expert Leigh Lanham as Starke held out Ritchie Hawkins to the end to level the score 12-12, but Ipswich eased two back into the lead again after Tungate took Heat Five over Bellego who blocked Risager at every move.

Skipper Smith made another blinder of a gate in the sixth, but Barker, determined not to be outdone again blasted round the Bandit - and the other two in the race - round bend one and two to take another home 4-2 to put the home side 20-16 ahead.

Morley’s bike blew up at the start of Heat Seven and was duly excluded from the re-run, Wethers ended up going way too wide on the opening bend to allow Hawkins through to join Lanham up front for another Witches’ 5-1 taking the score to 25-17.

The score jetted away to 30-18 after Heat Eight’s home maximum with Ellis taking his second straight win of the night as Bellego ended in third behind Cameron Heeps allowing Smith to take a tactical ride for double points in Heat Nine to desperately halt the Witches run.

Too eager however was the cry as Smith jumped at the start to be recalled with an official warning for moving, whilst in the re-run Smith made another fast, but legal gate and took the doubled six points, but Barratt fell restricting the advantage to a 3-6 result taking the score to 33-24 as a few spots of rain began to fall.

Barker and Heeps hammered home another Ipswich 5-1 in Heat 10, briefly threatened by Wethers leading to Bellego being nominated as Berwick’s second and final tactical ride in Heat 11, but the race was initially halted when Ellis ran out of room on the opening bends and laid his bike down with Ashworth being forced wide into Lanham who fell but the referee excluded Ashworth despite the fence damage from Ellis’ fall which was the initial cause of the stoppage.

In the re-run Bellego made a ghastly start and ended up stone last and whilst he was reeling Ellis in he was in no danger of passing the youngster in another Ipswich 5-1 to take the score to 43-26 before a Tungate/Hawkins 4-2 split by Stark took the home side into an unassailable position with the win firmly in their hands with three races to go and dark clouds brewing overhead as they did over Berwick’s attempt to take a good result at Ipswich.

Berwick Team manager Ian Rae said: “We showed some good promise early on in this match but the home side soon found their feet and took advantage to grab the points, and whilst a refereeing decision or two didn’t exactly help we needed more fire power from our lads which was lacking at times.”