Five league meetings down, five defeats. Those are the stats facing Berwick Speedway after their opening round of fixtures and a blank Easter which saw them lose two meetings in two days.
After losses against Sheffield, Newcastle and Edinburgh, they were well beaten at Edinburgh on Friday, where Dimitri Berge and Liam Carr both suffered knocks.
Berge was ruled out of the subsequent home and away meetings against Glasgow on Saturday and Sunday, although Carr declared himself fit.
The Bandits turned in a much better home performance against the Tigers at Shielfield, only going down by two points after leading for most of the match, but at Ashfield the weather intervened and rain meant the meeting was postponed.
Berwick Bandits 44
Glasgow Tigers 46
Berwick and Glasgow served up a real thriller of a meeting, with the Tigers just edging it at the death.
In fact, the visitors never led at any point throughout the meeting, until the vital heat 15, after coming from eight points adrift with only five races to go.
Berwick, using rider replacement for Dimitri Berge, and with Newcastle’s Danny Phillips guesting for Ryan Blacklock, got off to a good start and produced no fewer than six of the first eight race winners.
Claus Vissing won his opening two rides, but it was Kevin Doolan with a back to front ride in three and an excellent win by Dany Gappmaier over Richard Lawson in seven which caught the eye.
This put Bandits 28-20 in front, with Aaron Summers and Richie Worrall the only visiting riders to take the chequered flag up to that stage.
Gradually the top Tigers started to find their feet, however. Worrall and Lawson won the next two, but at 34-26 the home side still held the advantage.
The visitors’ fightback began in earnest in heat 11 when Summers produced a burst of speed to pass Vissing. Lawson won the next and two heat advantages cut the deficit to 38-34.
Heat 13 saw Worrall and Summers gate for the only 1-5 of the night and suddenly it was all square at 39-39 with two races remaining.
Gappmaier then produced a great race for the line victory over Nike Lunna in 14, but with Tom Perry passing Liam Carr at the back it was still level at 42-42 going into the last heat decider.
Worrall gated and was gone for the win ahead of Doolan, but it was Summers who managed to hold off Bridger at the back for the all-important third place.
Team manager Gary Havelock said: “It was a cracking meeting with great racing yes, but it was a shame we couldn’t keep up the good early work through the whole meeting as when we needed to give it the gas it was hit and run, crash, bang, wallop, back to the form that bleeds points, even though yes we were better, we still got nothing.
“Glasgow are a good side and they applied the pressure when they needed to take the points and when they applied that pressure it opened up the cracks in our armour again, so I’m very disappointed as they were not a better side than us and to be honest a draw would have been the fair result.”
Berwick Bandits: Doolan 14, Gappmaier 11, Vissing 9, Bridger 5+1, Phillips (guest) 3, Carr 2+2, Berge - rider replacement.
Glasgow Tigers: Worrall 14, Summers 11+1, Lawson 9+1, Perry 5+1, Lunna 4, Bewley 3, Smith 0.
EDINBURGH Monarchs 57
BERWICK Bandits 33
Berwick Bandits took another bashing on their visit to Armadale in the league on Friday, going down to a convincing 24-point defeat.
The Bandits were well beaten on the night by the Monarchs, who in total had 14 race winners, but team manager Gary Havelock was far from happy.
First of all, with Ryan Blacklock already sidelined with a back injury, he was left with two other team members nursing sores.
Liam Carr damaged his shoulder and Dimitri Berge hurt his wrist, placing question marks over their possible inclusion in the meetings against Glasgow on the following two nights.
Havelock was also annoyed at the decision to exclude Berge from the re-run following his crash after he was hit from behind by Mark Riss.
He said: “In 47 years I have never seen such a poor decision by a referee.
“Dimitri was in front when he had his back wheel taken away from him.
“Edinburgh now also need a new pits phone as I was fined for ungentlemanly conduct!”
The Bandits changed their riding order for this meeting in the hope that both Berge and Carr could pick up some points and used young Joe Lawlor as a guest for Blacklock.
But, on a heavy track, Edinburgh dominated throughout and Erik Riss raced to a full 15-point maximum whilst fellow heat-leaders Sam Masters and Ricky Wells also both went unbeaten by an opponent.
With reserve Mark Riss also winning two races and Josh Pickering one, it meant the Bandits only had one race winner from the 15 heats, with reserve Dany Gappmaier taking the chequered flag in 14.
“It was not our night tonight,” said Havelock, “I am a very angry manager.”
Edinburgh Monarchs: E Riss 15, Wells 13+2, Masters 11+1, M Riss 9, Pickering 4, Davey 3+1, Clegg 2+1.
Berwick Bandits: Vissing 8, Doolan 8, Gappmaier 7+3, Bridger 7, Berge 3+1, Carr 0, Lawlor (guest) 0.