Alden to the max and Carr debut as Bandits end Sheffield semi-final hopes

Seb Alden. Sebastian Alden
Seb Alden. Sebastian Alden

Berwick Bandits50

Sheffield Tigers39

Berwick all but ended Sheffield’s hopes of progressing to the semi-finals of the League Cup when they beat the Tigers at Shielfield.

The visitors knew that they needed a draw at the very least to stand any chance of reaching the last four with group leaders Workington, but defeat means that it is Newcastle who are now likely to join the Comets in the latter stages.

Bandits were inspired by a flawless 15-point maximum from Sebastian Alden, his first of the season, but they were also served well by captain Lee Complin, who won four of his six races, whilst reserve Jason King was always in the thick of the action, being involved in three separate incidents, two with Emiliano Sanchez and one with Sheffield guest James Wright.

There was also a debut for Berwick’s own Liam Carr, who made his first outing for his home town club at the tender age of 16.

Carr failed to score from his four races, but the experience will have done him the world of good.

Both sides were forced to make changes due to injuries and other commitments and a close meeting was in prospect.

But with the Yorkshire side twice taking the lead at 11-13 and 29-31 the Bandits had to call on all their resolve to pull this one out of the bag.

The fight back started with a 5-0 in heat 11 when both Hugh Skidmore and Wright were excluded for separate falls.

Both riders were dicing with King at the time, Skidmore falling on the first bend, Wright on the fourth when he appeared to lock up in front of the Berwick rider. Wright was subsequently withdrawn from the meeting after receiving medical treatment.

Earlier, King had been involved in two clashes with Sanchez, which led referee Willie Dishington to exclude one of them on each occasion.

First of all King went under Sanchez after coming up the inside of the Argentinian down the home straight, the Bandit being excluded as ‘Potty’ slid off. The pair then clashed again in heat eight when this time it was Sanchez who went hard under King, forcing the home rider to fall as they came off the fourth bend.

At 34-31 after 11 it was still too close to call, and a drawn heat in 12 meant the meeting went down to the last three races.

In 13 Alden and King both had to make good passing moves up the back straight to come through for a 5-1 which gave the Bandits some breathing space at 42-35.

And when Complin played a captain’s role by winning in 14, King following the impressive guest Christian Henry home in third, the victory was guaranteed.

Henry, who rides for Newcastle, was always in the points, and might have done his own team’s chances of reaching the semi’s some harm if Sheffield had won.

The other star performer for the visitors was Ricky Wells, whose top score of 12+1 meant the Tigers were always in the hunt.

But this was Alden’s night and he duly went on to deny the opposition even a losing bonus point when he completed his full house in fine style in 15.

After the meeting Alden said: “I felt really good tonight. I have been riding reasonably well lately, especially at home, and have gone close to a maximum on a number of occasions.

“As a rider you know you can’t win all the time, but tonight I knew I was going well. The track was good for me and my bikes were going well, so I was confident, and confidence is a big thing in speedway.”

Team manager Ian Rae added: “I always felt this was going to be a close meeting, but with Sheffield twice taking a lead against us it turned out to be harder than I expected.

“We certainly had to dig deep for the win, but we are unbeaten at Shielfield this season, so we know we have it in our locker.

“Seb was superb for his maximum, but I was particularly pleased for Jason (King). He was in the wars tonight with two or three incidents, and he also had to battle hard for his points with a number of passing moves. This kind of form is suggesting that he is getting better every week.”

Berwick - Alden 15 (max), Complin 15, King 9+3, Ashworth 8+1, Tomicek 3, Carr 0, Bellego rider rep. Sheffield - Wells 12+1, Henry 11, Haines 7+1, Skidmore 4+1, Wright 3+2, Sanchez 2+1, Hall rider rep.