Bandits’ boss Rae apologies to fans after ‘appalling’ performance leads to cup exit

Berwick Bandits manager Ian Rae
Berwick Bandits manager Ian Rae

Embarrassing, shocking, unexpected - they were three of the words used by fans to describe Berwick’s capitulation to Ipswich in their KO Cup defeat at Shielfield on Saturday.

And Bandits’ team manager Ian Rae added another when he described the performance as ‘appalling.’

Berwick had given themselves a great chance of progressing to the semi- finals when they held the Witches to a six point deficit (48-42) in their quarter-final first leg tie at Foxhall Heath on Thursday.

But in the return leg they were simply never at the races and the Suffolk side blitzed them with a powerhouse performance which perhaps showed everyone why they were installed as pre-season title favourites.

“Like everyone else I thought we had done all the hard work in the first leg at Ipswich,” said Rae. “We knew Ipswich were a good side and knew they would come here and give it a go, but we just weren’t expecting them to be as good as that.”

Berwick went into the meeting unbeaten on their home track this season, but a 34-56 defeat (76-104 on aggregate) highlighted the weaknesses they have, particularly at reserve, where they were out-scored paid 21-5 by the visitors.

Ipswich simply outgated the Berwick riders on numerous occasions, and on a slick track where passing was at a premium, this played right into their hands.

Every Ipswich rider left the meeting with at least one win under their belts, and such was their dominance that they had the meeting and the tie won by as early as heat ten.

The disappointment on the home supporters manifested itself in the fact that several were seen leaving the stadium well before the end, and that’s something the club will be trying to avoid.

Afterwards Rae went on record to say sorry to the fans. “I can only apologise to our fans for that performance,” he said. “There’s no other way to describe it, we were appalling, and we didn’t deserve to go through.”

Berwick will now be hoping to get back on track this week when they take on Plymouth at Shielfield on Saturday, but as the Devils have Ben Barker - the top averaged rider in the Premier League - and Ryan Fisher - a known track specialist - this could be another tricky night.

“We will certainly have to up our game,” admitted Rae, “because we want to avoid another night like tonight if we possibly can.”

With the averages changing for the month of July, the injured Alex Edberg moves up into the main body of the team with Lubos Tomicek dropping to reserve. Edberg is still sidelined with a broken shoulder, but is expected back ‘sooner, rather than later,’ according to the club.

The changes to the riding order will mean rider replacement will now operate for Edberg with David Bellego and reserves Tomicek and Jason King all eligible to take his rides.

Berwick plan to operate a ‘Kids for Free’ promotion this weekend with all youngsters (16 and under) admitted for free if accompanied by a paying adult.