BERWICK BANDITS 44, REDCAR BEARS 45
Berwick’s play-off hopes suffered a severe set-back when they failed to close out Redcar in a last heat decider at Shielfield on Saturday.
Bandits led by seven points with only two races remaining, but in a grandstand finish, the never-say-die Bears hit back to remarkably win the match with two 1-5s in heats 14 and 15, leaving the home side shell-shocked.
At 42-35 Berwick looked the more likely victors, but two wins from Micky Dyer - the one who got away - coupled with second places from another ex-Bandit, Carl Wilkinson, and Hugh Skidmore, saw the tables turned.
Redcar had won 44-46 at Shielfield in the KO Cup earlier in the season and when Ulrich Ostergaard and Skidmore sped from the gate for a 1-5 over the in-form David Bellego and the returning Ricky Ashworth in heat one it was obvious Bandits were in for another difficult night.
Paul Starke had a good win in heat two (4-2), but Dyer won his first of five races in three (2-4) and at 7-11 the gap remained.
Kozza Smith and the impressive Starke got the better of Aaron Summers in four and a 5-1 levelled it up at 12-12, and when a Matty Wethers and Robin Aspegren 4-2 was followed with a 5-1 from Bellego and Ashworth, Berwick moved 21-15 in front and it looked as if they had put their poor start behind them.
Bellego in this race produced the ride of the night, going from last to first and there was no doubting he had the bit between his teeth.
A second win for Smith in seven was followed with another win for Bellego in eight in the fastest time of the season, and with Starke taking third place a 4-2 extended the Bandits’ advantage to eight at 28-22.
Heat nine saw Aspegren fall trying to go around the outside off the second bend and he was excluded. In the re-run Wilkinson retired which meant there were only two finishers, Summers getting the better of Wethers to cut the deficit to seven.
It was a gap which was to remain over the next four races, the sides swapping 4-2s and two 3-3s with Dyer (twice) Smith and Ostergaard taking the chequered flags.
By this stage Dyer was starting to have a dramatic impact on the match and he went on to win four of the last six races, leaving many Berwick fans wondering why he wasn’t signed on at the start of this season!
Once again this was a good meeting to watch - some good close, fast racing - but the fact remains Berwick failed to see it out, although credit must go to Redcar for their fightback.
Berwick manager Ian Rae later admitted to being ‘stunned’ at the result. “Seven points up with two races left I don’t think there would have been many people who thought Redcar were capable of pulling off a victory,” he said.
“I am just stunned, because I honestly didn’t see that happening.”
Rae said he was pleased to see Ricky Ashworth back in action after so long out injured, but he said their downfall was the fact that again they did not have ‘seven riders performing on the track in the same meeting.’
Ricky Ashworth 0,2*,0,1* 3+2
David Bellego 1,3,3,2,0 9
Robin Aspegren 0,1,Fx,1* 2+1
Matthew Wethers 2,3,2,0 7
Kozza Smith 3,3,3,2,1 12
Ashley Morris (g) 1,R,1,N 2
Paul Starke 3,2*,1,2,1 9+1
Ulrich Ostergaard 3,0,0,3 6
Hugh Skidmore 2*,1,2,2,2,2* 11+2
Matej Kus – Rider replacement
Micky Dyer 3,2,3,3,3,3 17
Aaron Summers 1,1,3,1,0 6
Carl Wilkinson 2,0,1*,R,R,2* 5+2
Luke Crang ® 0,F,0,N 0