Bandits fail to earn stripes against Tigers


By The Newsroom
Wednesday, 16th June 2010, 10:54 am

BERWICK suffered a shock home defeat at the hands of bottom of the table Glasgow on Saturday, sparking fears that the Bandits are destined for another season of under-achievement.

The Tigers, with the inclusion of former England international Joe Screen, arrived as a much-changed outfit and it was all the Borderers could do to try and hang on to their tails after what can only be described as a sensational start to the meeting by the visitors.

That's because Glasgow, with the aid of a 4-2 and two 5-1s, blasted their way into a 4-14 lead after only three heats and the home side looked decidedly shaky.

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Screen, on his first PL outing, had a fine win in heat one, and when Jamie Courtney and another debutant, 16 year-old Nick Morris, blocked Paul Clews and Jade Mudgway out of the start in heat two, things didn't look good for the Bandits.

It got worse when a third new signing, John Branney, forced his way through to join the flying Travis McGowan in three and at 10-points down so early in the meeting the writing looked to be on the wall for Dave Peet's side.

Michal Makovsky and Clews undid some of the damage with a 5-1 of their own in four, but this was to be Makovsky's only win of the night and with no change in the deficit over the next four heats, Bandits still trailed by six at 21-27 after eight.

A timely 5-1 from Lee Complin (his first win in Berwick colours) and Michal Rajkowski in nine, cut the deficit to only two at 26-28 and suddenly it was meeting on again.

But Branney held on for a fine win over Adrian Rymel in ten, and despite a Clews victory in 11 as the teams swapped 4-2s, the meeting turned on heat 12.

Clews and Mudgway looked set for another 5-1 which would have put Berwick in front for the first time, but as he entered the third bend on the third lap, the skipper suffered a puncture. As he slowed and drifted wide he hampered the progress of Mudgway, enabling Branney to come through for the win, and the six-point swing as the visitors picked up a 2-4 put them four up at 34-38 with three races remaining.

Josh Grajczonek split the Rymel-Makovsky pairing in 13 as the deficit was cut to two again at 38-40, but it was the Tigers who finished the stronger with McGowan storming to two fine wins in 14 and 15, the second of which he was joined for a 5-1 by Screen to complete the victory.

In summary, Glasgow got off to a fine start and then managed to hold on as the Bandits attempted to claw back the deficit.

Heats two and 12 were the most costly for Berwick, but the fact that Glasgow produced ten race winners to Bandits' five tells its own story and in McGowan, Screen and surprise packet Branney they had three match-winning performers.

Berwick promoter John Anderson was naturally disappointed at the result when he spoke afterwards:

"Obviously we cannot get over the disappointment of losing at home," he said, "because we really wanted to win against a Glasgow side who now look a lot stronger with the inclusion of Joe Screen and John Branney.

"On the positive side there was some tremendous racing - perhaps some of the best since we took over. The racing was fast, as evidenced by the very quick times in some of the heats, and some of the passing was quite exceptional.

"It was also a close finish, going down to a last heat decider with only two points in it, so you could say that despite the result the entertainment value was high."

After the meeting Lee Complin said: "Glasgow caught us cold.

"We tried to claw our way back into the meeting, but Paul (Clews') puncture in heat 12 was the turning point and in the end it just wasn't our night."

Complin himself admitted to a night of mixed emotions, for despite the defeat he managed to win his first race in Berwick colours, which he said was 'a huge relief.'

"As everyone knows I have had a lot of injury problems this year," he said. "First of all there was my broken arm, then the bone in my foot.

"Hopefully all that is behind me now. I didn't feel any reaction to the injuries tonight and all I want to do now is concentrate on the rest of the season.

"After my first race win I was itching for another, and for me the season really does start now.

"I want to be scoring points from here on in, and from now on I want to be averaging at least seven a meeting."

Berwick - Clews 11+2, Rymel 9, Complin 7, Makovsky 7, Mudgway 5+2, Rajkowski 3+1. Glasgow - McGowan 13, Screen 10+1, Branney 8+1, Grajczonek 6, Dicken 5, Morris 3+1, Courtney 3.

* THERE is no meeting at Shielfield this Saturday (June 19), but the Bandits are in action at Somerset on Friday and as manager Dave Peet admitted in his programme notes at the weekend they need to show signs of improvement on the road as so far this season their away performances 'leave a lot to be desired.'

Berwick were due to race at Newcastle on Sunday (20th) but that meeting has had to be put back to another date as the Diamonds face King's Lynn in a re-arranged Premier Trophy semi-final clash which was rained off a fortnight ago.

* ON Monday, Berwick skipper Paul Clews rode in the British Final at Wolverhampton.

In a high quality field he scored three points (one second and one third place) from his five rides.

The meeting winner was defending champion Chris Harris, who lifted his third title in four years.

* LAST Thursday at Redcar, Berwick's Jade Mudgway won the Teesside Best Pairs when he was partnered with Birmingham rider Aaron Summers. The pair scored 20 points, two more than runners-up Emiliano Sanchez and Stuart Swales, with Gary Havelock and Jamie Courtney third on 16.