After a comprehensive victory over Ipswich last Saturday at Shielfield Park, a meet they must have felt would be tough after the Witches comprehensive victory in Tweedmouth in June, Berwick boss Ian Rae was well satisfied.
He said: “That was by far our best performance at home for several weeks. It all clicked into place and several of the team rode their socks off when we needed it most, none more so than acting skipper Seb Alden, who was simply majestic on the night.”
Rae had chosen wisely with his guest too, as former Ipswich man, Kevin Doolan (now of Redcar) certainly looked as if he was proving a point with a paid maximum.
Alden rode to a brilliant 15 point maximum with some top class racing, mostly powering through from the back in the early stages of his races. Berwick have been badly hit by injuries this season and it was confirmed on Friday that skipper Ricky Ashworth would not be returning to action. Ashworth had a spin at Sheffield on Thursday night but was in obvious discomfort as he tested his shoulder, broken at Shielfield just over a month ago. The Salford-based racer was forced to pull out of his scheduled return last Saturday and of course his eagerly anticipated attempt at reclaiming his PLRC crown.
Talking of injuries, Berwick were delighted to see Frenchman David Bellego bounce back after crashing heavily against Ipswich when Dakota North fell in front of him.
The Bandits have clinched their place in the lower section play offs (possibly called the Premier Challenge Trophy).
If, as is expected, the format is decided through region, that would put Berwick in with Glasgow and Redcar, with home and away fixtures against both. Bandits don’t have a meeting this Saturday (September 22) and if plans come to fruition, they could race Glasgow home and away on Saturday and Sunday, September 29 and 30. Redcar could even host Berwick next Thursday.
However, at present, Berwick do not plan to race at home on Saturday October 6. The winners of each three team section will then meet in the final. Whatever happens, the northern group looks wide open.
One rider who has created a huge impression since joining Berwick in July has been Swedish star Robin Aspegren, who was with Newport last term. The likeable Aspegren is really at home at Berwick and stays in the town with the Thompson family at Cara House along with Seb Alden, when his fellow rider is in the UK. Aspegren was very much on the Berwick radar early in the year but joined Swindon in the EL before moving on due to problems with his Thursday Swedish League commitments.
He came in on an average of just over five and a half but has soon pushed that up. His average this season (from 16 League fixtures without bonus points) is 6.75 and in the two matches last weekend he scored paid 25 points for the Bandits, and is extremely popular in the Berwick camp.
Talking of being popular another rider to quickly settle in has been the tall Dane, Nicki Barrett from Odense. Barrett has now completed his eight initial meetings (4 H and 4 A) and subject to confirmation his new average is 3.75 which would place him at reserve (Micky Dyer moving up on September 29). Barrett, though, has shown heaps of promise and has ridden better than the average suggests.
Berwick have still to go to Workington in the Premier League for their twice-cancelled meeting against the Comets. Saturday September 22 had been mooted as a double header but will not go ahead.