Berwick Bandits 46 Sheffield Tigers 47
BERWICK BANDITS set out as a team on a mission last night at Shielfield Park when the Sheffield Tigers arrived in opposition with the home side still smarting from a huge home defeat just two weeks ago, but from the off it was tight as a drum, ending with a bizarre climactic moment that sent the victory rocketing into Sheffield’s pocket.
Ricky Ashworth shot round Sheffield guest Christian Henry off bend two to take the win in a shared race and with Hugh Skidmore doing likewise round Lubos Tomicek in the second to tie the heat as well the score was tied at 6-6.
Lee Complin took up the cudgels in Heat Three to blast past Chris Schramm and then moved wide up the banking, cutting hard back mid bend to propel himself under Wethers to take a magnificent win with David Bellego in third to break the scoring with a home 4-2.
A further 4-2 in Heat Four took the score to 14-10 before Wethers took a smash into the first bend fence in Heat Five with the referee calling an all-four-back, whilst in the re-run, Bellego shot away from the tapes to lead and win well with Complin taking a great second over Wethers and Henry to take the first maximum of the match for Berwick with the score now 19-11.
Freshly back from injury Alex Edberg lost control in bend one of Heat Six, needing an ambulance ride to see to his aggravated shoulder injury and a new possible ankle injury and was withdrawn from the meeting.
Henry was nominated as a tactical ride in Heat Eight and took full advantage of a 15 metre handicap levied on Tomicek for a tape touching incident which effectively handed a perfect Sheffield 8-1 on a plate with the score much tightened to 28-23 as a result.
The following three races were shared 3-3s going into Heat 12 with intermittent rain making the top surface looking a little greasy, but Complin revelled in the extra grip gained by passing Schramm through a non-existent gap as the Tiger tried to slam the door on him at speed. The Berwick skipper hammered hard behind Skidmore too but just failed in his quest for three points in the 2-4 which again tightened things up to 39-36.
A surprise and dominant 1-5 to Haines and Skidmore over an always battling Bellego and Tomicek put Sheffield critically in front for the first time in the match, 43-44 with one vital heat left on the card in which Berwick had to get at least a 4-2 to win.
Unfortunately pure mayhem resulted on the opening bends of the final heat as the two Bandits seemed to be motoring onto a dead-cert 5-1, but with Ashworth out front, moving his opposition out wide for Alden to swoop under.
But the Swede found himself out much wider than planned and forced onto the outside line meaning he had to fly the wide line to join his partner up front, but Ashworth had not realised who was chasing to his right as he closed the door on his partner who bounced off the fence and awkwardly ended up at the rear and eventually he pulled out of the race.
Effectively the breakdown in team communications scuppered Berwick’s chance of a match win and will have be put down to experience although several bitter pills were found hard to swallow as the crowd filed out of the track extremely disappointed.
Team manager Ian Rae was a sickened man afterwards, but sited many problems for his team’s defeat saying: “Yes everyone will remember the farcical way heat 15 proceeded, and I’m sure sensible discussions between the team members will wipe out the chance of that sort of thing happening again, but to be absolutely honest heat 15 should not have mattered anyway – we should have had that match easily won way before then!
“It’s the manner in which we were defeated which hurts most, as in certain quarters there seems to be too little determination or desire to win and it’s a situation we as a management team are fully aware of and we’re also in full agreement that it’s a situation that we cannot, in any way shape or form, allow to continue. It has to be halted and we’ll be looking at every way to get this sorted so we can deliver the sort of results our fans are looking for.
“We know what our season goals are and at the moment we’re not aiming high enough to achieve them so we will be working on things very quickly indeed. But for now at least we’ve got to concentrate on getting a good result in the Fours at Peterborough on Sunday afternoon – then the serious talking begins.”
Individual Riders’ Score Chart:
Berwick Bandits 46
Ricky Ashworth 3,3,3,3,3 = 15
Alex Edberg 0,Fx,N,N = 0
Lee Complin © 3,2*,R,2 = 7+1
David Bellego 1,3,3,1 = 8
Sebastian Alden 3,3,3,0,R = 9
Lubos Tomicek ® 2,2*,0,0,0 = 4+1
Jason King ® 1*,1,1,0,0 = 3+1
Sheffield Tigers 47
Matthew Wethers (guest) 1*,2,1,1*,1* = 6+3
Christian Henry (guest) 2,0,6^,2 = 10
Chris Schramm 0,1,1*,1 = 3+1
Richard Hall – Rider replacement
Ricky Wells © 0,2,2,2,2,1* = 9+1
Hugh Skidmore ® 3,2,N,0,1*,3,2*,2 = 13+2
Joe Haines ® 0,N,1*,2*,3 = 6+