THE visit of Redcar’s title-chasing speedway Bears will test Berwick Bandits to the full at Shielfield Park tomorrow evening (7pm).
“We are undefeated here on Saturday nights since early in May,” said Berwick co-promoter Ryan Anderson.
“But make no mistake – Redcar will be tough cookies this week!”
The Redcar squad will race without Czech Republic favourite Matej Kus on Saturday.
“He has been suffering from a shoulder injury, but had hoped to return for this match,” said Anderson.
“However, we have learned he has failed a fitness test at home in Prague, and won’t be at Shielfield Park. But I’d warn that by their reverting to the rider-replacement regulation, which allows his races to be shared out among his team-mates, Redcar could well prove even stronger than they might have been with Matej Kus in the team.”
Berwick will have a familiar face on parade, when popular ace Ricky Ashworth returns to the ranks.
The Manchester-based flier was sidelined by two April accidents – at Glasgow and shortly afterwards at Edinburgh – which left him with the after-effects of severe concussions.
Several neurological scans, and even extraction of wisdom teeth, failed to bring a speedy return to full health, but time – the great healer - finally allowed the rider to resume practising at the end of last month, and after riding lap after lap around Stoke, and a further session at Sheffield, Ashworth has at last been passed as fit to return to Berwick’s colours.
“He returns to his role at No 1, allowing Edward Kennett to revert to a full-time role at Swindon, which is what that club most certainly wanted, even if Eddie didn’t,” said team manager Ian Rae.
“However, Kozza Smith will continue in his role as club captain, allowing Ricky to concentrate fully on getting himself back into the main business of scoring points for the New Holland Bandits.”
Points will be needed on Saturday, with Redcar Bears in town and in rampant form, currently second in the PL table – boosted by an extra point awarded after an SCB enquiry into their recent match at Edinburgh – but Berwick, who lost out to the Bears by the narrowest of margins in a tense KO Cup encounter earlier in the season, are anxious to gain revenge.
With Nicki Barrett still unfit, Bandits have invited 20-year-old Ashley Morris to act as their guest at reserve, while Redcar will employ Josh Bates as a replacement for Germany’s Max Dilger.
Teams will line up:
Berwick: 1, Ricky Ashworth; 2, David Bellego; 3, Robin Aspegren; 4, Matty Wethers; 5, Kozza Smith (captain); 6, Ashley Morris (guest); 7, Paul Starke.
Redcar: 1, Ulrich Ostergaard; 2, Hugh Skidmore; 3, Matej Kus (rider-replacement); 4, Micky Dyer; 5, Aaron Summers (captain); 6, Josh Bates (Guest); 7, Carl Wilkinson.
Following the Premier League business, speedway fans will be treated to another Northern Junior League mini-match, between Berwick’s Northern Raiders and Redcar Bear Cubs.