BERWICK BANDITS 44 REDCAR BEARS 46: Berwick left themselves with it all to do after going down to a surprise home defeat against Redcar in the first leg of this KO Cup tie.
And it was obvious where the difference between the two sides lay - for the Bears were simply a lot quicker out of the gates, and on a track where again passing was at a premium, that spelled disaster.
It was former Bandit Micky Dyer who returned with avengence, for he rode superbly at reserve, producing a match-winning 15 paid 16 from reserve, which included the only defeat of the night on Berwick guest Sebastian Alden.
The Swede had been drafted in as a guest for concussed skipper Ricky Ashworth, and he was an inspirational choice as he raced to four successive wins, showing the Berwick fans and management what they are missing this season with a stylish display.
But he was beaten out of the gate by Dyer in heat 15 and the Aussie, who had previously only dropped points in his opening two rides to Nicki Barrett, held on to complete a memorable night and give the visitors a two-point victory on the night.
There was no hint of what was to follow as Berwick opened up a routine 7-5 lead in the first two heats with wins from Alden and Barrett.
But in heat three Carl Wilkinson and Aaron Summers both fought their way past the struggling Matty Wethers and Kozza Smith and this was to prove to be the catalyst for bigger and better things.
With gating all important Berwick suddenly lost their way, and despite a 5-1 from Alden and David Bellego in six, the Bears produced three maximum heat advantages of their own in five, seven and eight to open up a ten point lead at 19-29.
In what was a see-saw meeting the Bandits then hit back with three maximums of their own in nine, ten and 11 to turn the tables and go 34-32 in front.
This included one superb last bend cut-back by Wethers in nine when he passed Matej Kus up the inside after failing to find any drive around the more traditional outside line.
But if anyone thought the Bandits might kick on from here they had forgotten to tell Redcar, and Dyer in particular.
The 5-1s just kept on coming, and another for the visitors in 12 made it a remarkable eight in a row as the visitors moved in front again at 35-37.
Alden’s fourth win in 13 steadied the ship but it was Dyer who was to have the last word, winning both heats 14 and 15 put the Bears in the driving seat.
Berwick manager Ian Rae and vice captain Smith were in agreement after the defeat.
“We must do better out of the starts,” they said.
“We just couldn’t get out of the gate,” said Smith, “and on a track where it was difficult to pass that made it extremely difficult for us.”
Rae added: “On too many occasions we were well beaten out of the start and as a result Redcar deserved their win.
“But it’s the cup, it’s only half time and we have to go down to Redcar for the second leg and try to do the same to them.
“We have the riders who are capable.”