BERWICK edged a nervy encounter against league newcomers Leicester, although the visitors left Shielfield with a worthy bonus point.
It might have been more, however, as two incidents throughout the night turned the meeting in Bandits’ favour.
First of all Richrd Hall was leading the out of sorts Charlie Gjedde in heat six, when the Lions’ skipper, who was sitting second behind impressive guest Derek Sneddon, fell off on his own on the third bend in the second lap. Bandits took a 5-1 over Jamie Courtney in the re-run, which gifted the home side two additional points, whilst another guest, National League rider Gary Irving had to battle with Jan Gravesen all the way to the line in heat 14, the pair passing and re-passing before the youngster claimed a vital third point.
This meant Berwick went into heat 15 four points up at 44-40, but with the impressive Mathieu Tresarrieu and Hall out in the last race Leicester knew they were in with a chance of forcing a draw.
And when Lee Complin failed to get off the start line it looked even more of a possibility, but thankfully, from Berwick’s point of view, Kozza Smith rode to the rescue, emerging the match winner by finishing seconf behind Hall, perhaps fitting on the ‘International Day of the Smiths,’ which Berwick marked by admitting all supporters with the surname in for free!
Berwick had been forced into making team changes for the meeting, with Irving guesting for Josef Franc, who was away riding long-track, whilst Sneddon was drafted in to replace the injured Hynek Stichauer.
And the Scot proved to be a worthy replacement, winning his first three races and only dropping one point from his four starts.
With Smith and Complin winning five races between them, Bandits always had their noses in front . . . but only just, as Leicester held them at 15-all after five before Hall’s untimely fall.
Their cause was also not helped by Gjedde’s inability to get out of the gate and his apparent lack of speed.
The performances of Hall and Tresarrieu ensured Leicester were always in contention, and with John Oliver providing some useful back-up they went very close to ending Berwick’s unbeaten home league run.
The quality of the racing also picked up in the second half of the meeting with Irving, Complin, Mudgway, tresarrieu and Gravesen all showing their willingness to fight their way from the back.
Berwick - Smith 12, Sneddon 11, Complin 10, Mudgway 7, Gjedde 3+1, Irving 2+1, Sike 1+1. Leicester - Hall 13, resarrieu 12+1, Oliver 8+2, Darkin 7, Gravesen 3, Courtney 1, Sweetman r/rep.
BERWICK took a well deserved two points from an away draw in the return at Leicester on Sunday.
The Bandits welcomed back Josef Franc for this meeting, whilst the Lions also had Richard Sweetman on track - he had missed Saturday’s clash after a heavy fall against Workington on Friday. And both were prominant in the match, winning five races between them.
Berwick were never actually in front. Once again they conceded a 5-1 in the opening race after Charlie Gjedde was excluded, but thereafter, in producing 10 of the 15 race winners, they were never more than two points adrift and for the last four races it was all square.
The meeting produced another last heat decider, but Lee Complin, who had dropped only one point in his first four races, and Franc, who had won two of his first four starts, were unable to catch Sweetman, who raced away for his third victory of the night to guarantee parity on the night.
Leicester - Sweetman 12+1, Darkin 10, Gravesen 7+2, Hall 6+1, Trasarrieu 5+1, Oliver 4+2, Courtney 1+1. Berwick - Complin 13, Franc 10+2, Smith 10+1, Gjedde 6, Mudgway 6, Sike 0, Stichauer r/rep.
Bandits sign Edberg
BERWICK have been forced to delve into the transfer market in a bid to boost their ailing squad.
With concern continuing to surround the fitness of young Czech Republic rider Hynek Stichauer, who has been out for over a month with a dislocated shoulder, the Bandits’ management have moved to sign temporary cover in the shape of Sweden’s Alex Edberg.
The 20 year-old will make his debut for the club in this Saturday’s home league encounter against high-flying Glasgow Tigers.
Promoter John Anderson said Stichauer remains part of the squad and will return to action when he is fit.
But the news last week was that he now faces an undetermined extended period on the sidelines, and when he does return to action will have to wear a shoulder brace for the rest of the season.
“After careful consideration we decided it was best not to run the risk of continuing to use rider-replacement cover,” said Anderson.
“We have therefore signed Alex as a temporary replacement. He will make his debut on Saturday against Glasgow, but unfortunately I will not be there to see him as I will be in the Czech Republic for the Grand Prix.
“Hynek will be clear to return to the team once he gets the all clear from the doctors, but of course we are also hoping that Alex will prove to be something of a revelation.”
Edberg currently rides for Hammerby in Sweden, Fjelsted in Denmark, Lublin in Poland and also in Finland.
Last year he was a member of the all-conquering Smederna in the Swedish first division and also helped Hammerby win promotion to the Swedish Elite League.
He is no stranger to Britain, having raced here with the touring Team Viking squad earlier this season when he raced at Newcastle and Sheffield.
He claims to love riding big tracks and is looking forward to wearing the black and gold of the Bandits.
“It is an honour to be racing for Berwick,” he said. “I have heard so much about the club’s history and how friendly the supporters are and I can’t wait to get on track for them.”