Off night for Alden, but Bandits fight back for victory over Tigers

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Berwick Bandits49, Glasgow Tigers41. Berwick made it two league wins out of two when they beat last year’s champions Glasgow at Shielfield on Saturday.

The Bandits were back to full strength, but with the Tigers having recently made changes they knew this would not be an easy match, and their task was made all the more difficult by the fact that Sebastian Alden had a poor night by his standards.

They got off to a good start with a 5-1 in heat one from Ricky Ashworth and Lubos Tomicek, who fended off a stiff challenge from Joe Screen over the first two laps.

Alex Edberg then won the re-run of heat two, Jason King having made a good gate in the original running, only to fall on the fourth bend of the first lap.

But Glasgow were not to be underestimated and they showed their worth over the next few races, providing four of the five race winners between three and seven, which saw them move into a slender two point lead.

First of all they rattled off two successive 5-1s of their own in three and four which put them 10-14 in front, the second coming after reserve Mason Campton produced the only pass of the night, other than riders coming off the second bend of the first lap, when he forced his way past King up the back straight on the last lap.

Screen and Josh Grajczonek also won in five and seven, split by a second Ashworth win in six and at 20-22 it looked as if the visitors were up for the fight.

Berwick managed to get their act together and turned the meeting around with maximum points from eight and nine, courtesy of the impressive Tomicek and King, and then Lee Complin and David Bellego, the Bandits’ skipper achieving the fastest time of the season.

Another win for Ashworth and a victory for Screen followed, and with both races shared the score moved on to 36-30.

Another good gate by King alongside Complin saw the home side record their fourth 5-1 of the night in 12 over Grajczonek, which saw the Bandits edge ten ahead at 41-31 and the home victory was almost assured.

But the bonus point was still up for grabs and when Ashworth dropped his first point of the night in 13, splitting Screen and James Grieves, Seb Alden completing a miserable night at the back, Glasgow reduced the deficit to eight and they were still in with a shout of taking something from the meeting.

Bellego won his now customary heat 14, and when Ashworth broke the tapes in 15, being forced out with a groin injury, it meant King had to go off 15m and the pressure was on Complin to come up with the goods.

Screen and Grieves made the best starts and looked as if they might achieve the 5-1 they needed, but they appeared to block each other going up the back straight, and when a gap opened up in front of him the skipper produced a turn of speed to burst through the gap for a win which guaranteed all three points.

After the meeting team manager Ian Rae said: “After last week’s rain-off it was just nice to get back to some action, and of course to pick up all three points against a strong Glasgow side.

“We knew they would be a stiff test, and with Seb (Alden) having an off night for us it made it all the more difficult.

“But the lads all rallied well and it was nice to see both Lubos (Tomicek) and Jason (King) amongst the points. particularly after their knocks against Redcar a fortnight ago.

“I thought the bonus point might be slipping from our grasp when Ricky (Ashworth) broke the tapes and was forced out of the re-run in heat 15 with a groin injury, but Lee (Complin) held his nerve when it mattered most and got us the win which gave us the bonus as well.”

Berwick - Ashworth 11, Complin 11, Bellego 7+2, Tomicek 6+1, Edberg 6+1, King 5+2, Alden 3+1. Glasgow - Screen 12, Grieves 8+1, Grajczonek 8+1, Campton 6+2, Sitera 6+1, O’Malley 1+1, Mills 0.