Berwick Bandits 50, Rye House Rockets 39: REMARKABLE and unexpected, they were two words being used by everyone to describe Berwick’s home win over Rye House.
The Bandits had gone into the meeting with only six riders - using rider replacement for Sebastian Alden - but when they were reduced to only four after a spectacular crash in heat two, no one really expected them to come away with a win, let alone all three match points.
But speedway has a way of throwing up surprises, and this was definitely one of them.
The already depleted Borderers, who were using Nick Morris as a guest for skipper Lee Complin, thought their chances had all but gone after Robert Ksiezak (ankle) and Rob Branford (knee) were both forced to withdraw after crashing out in their first ride.
They were the unwitting victims after Jason Bunyan fell coming off the fourth bend on the first lap, and all three following riders ploughed into the back of him.
It looked like carnage, but fortunately all four made their way back to the pits under their own steam. Ksiezak was withdrawn immediately, whilst Branford limped around for four laps in the re-run to collect two points, but was pulled out following further examination by paramedics.
This meant Berwick, down to only four riders, had to go in seven heats with only one representative, and only the most optimistic of supporters were predicting anything other than a defeat.
But Ricky Ashworth, who had retired in his first race, went unbeaten thereafter. Guest Nick Morris dropped only one point from six starts, and both Robin Aspegren and David Bellego chipped in with useful points, scoring every time they were out.
Charlie Gjedde, in his first return to Shielfield following his highly publicised departure last season, kept the pot boiling with three wins in his opening rides, and with Anders Mellgren recovering from a slow start, the Rockets were always in contention, being just 24-23 down after heat eight.
But such was Berwick’s determination not to succumb stage after getting their noses in front they never fell behind at any point in the latter stages of the meeting and when Ashworth beat Gjedde in 13 - much to the delight of the home fans - it meant a win in 14 would finally see then across the finishing line.
And so it proved, with Aspegren heading Bunyan and the disappointing Ritchie Hawkins to seal the victory.
The icing on the cake for Bandits came when Morris and Ashworth both got the better of Gjedde around the first and second bends in heat 15 to secure the bonus point as well.
After the meeting team manager Ian Rae said the performance of his riders had made him feel ‘very proud’ to be associated with Berwick Speedway.
“I am relieved, delighted and very proud,” he said. “It was a victory beyond belief.”
Ricky Ashworth, who was one of the four riders standing at the end added:
“I don’t know what we have done to deserve all this bad luck lately but the injury situation is now getting way out of hand.
“There were only four of us left at the end. We had to go through a lot of races with only one rider and it put a lot of pressure on us, but somehow we managed to pull through.
“It’s also putting a lot of strain on the management who are continually having to go out and look for new riders and that can’t be easy.”
Berwick - Morris 17, Ashworth 14+1, Aspegren 10+3, Bellego 7+1, Branford 2, Ksiezak 0, Alden rider/rep: Rye House - Gjedde 12, Mellgren 9, Bunyan 7+2, Hawkins 4+2, Morley 4+1, Kling 3, Bowen rider/rep.