Berwick Bandits35 Somerset Rebels60: JUST when Berwick thought it couldn’t get any worse . . . Having already seen a string of riders ruled out through injury, the last thing they wanted, or indeed needed, was to lose number one Ricky Ashworth.
Yet, that is precisely what happened in heat one of this meeting, and with him went any hopes Berwick had of mounting a challenge against the play-off chasing Rebels.
Ashworth tumbled on the first bend, after clipping Jason Doyle’s back wheel. He fell awkwardly and there was a lengthy delay whilst he received treatment for a suspected shoulder injury.
He was eventually removed from the track by ambulance and then transferred to hospital for further treatment.
Bandits had welcomed back two injury victims in the shape of Seb Alden (broken hand) and Klaus Jakobsen (shoulder), but the Swede struggled to recapture his best form, and with Berwick already using rider replacement for injured skipper Lee Complin, the loss of Ashworth meant the visitors were able to take full advantage to romp to a big away win.
Alden, as a tactical ride, and Robin Aspegren, both won a race apiece, but David Bellego was the only home rider to offer any resistance as the Rebels enjoyed a bumper pay night.
Jason Doyle went through the card, achieving a paid 15 maximum, and as Somerset rattled off 11 individual race winners, six of their number were first past the post, with the other, James Wright, achieving two paid victories, which included one off 15m.
In all Somerset comfortably raced to eight heat advantages, six of which produced a 1-5 winning margin. They were worthy and deserving winners on the night, but one couldn’t help feeling some sympathy for Berwick, who certainly haven’t had their problems to seek over the past few weeks.
In many respects this was simply a meeting too far for Bandits.
The previous week, against Rye House, they had pulled off a remarkable victory against all odds, when they were reduced to only four riders.
On this occasion they had five, but two of those were inexperienced reserves. James Sergeant in particular showed plenty of promise, and was always on the pace, but a three point return from 13 rides between them meant there was a lot of added pressure on the senior riders.
Alden wasn’t as quick out of the gate as normal, and as he asked medical staff for some assistance to look at his damaged hand during the course of the meeting it was obvious he was still feeling some effect from his injury.
After suffering a puncture at the end of one race he cut a lonely figure as he trudged his way back to the pits and it was a sight which seemed to sum up Berwick’s night.
The defeat. Berwick’s second at home in their last three league meetings, means the Bandits are now second from bottom of the Premier League table, with only Redcar below them. Their win in the Fours last month seems a long, long time ago, as so much has happened since then.
Injuries to virtually all their key riders has robbed them of any chance of making a late charge for the play-offs at the end of the season.
For the time being it looks like all they can do is try and regroup and make the best of a bad job.
After the meeting it was confirmed by Ashworth in a posting on Facebook that he had broken his shoulder - an jnjury which will end his season.
A clearly frustrated manager Ian Rae said: “What have we done to deserve this? We’ve now had seven major injuries in six matches and yet again had to race most of a meeting well down on manpower. Credit if course to Somerset, but we just cannot show out potential with this sort of luck that’s striking our every effort at the moment.
Berwick - Bellego 12, Alden 11+1, Aspegren 9, Jakobsen 2+1, Sergeant 1, Ashworth withdrawn injured, Complin rider replacement. Somerset - Doyle 14+1, Masters 10, Davies 9+1, Newman 8, Monberg 7+3, Wright 6+4, Perry 6+1.