Concentration key for Bandits

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Berwick embark on their Premier League campaign this weekend when they take on Redcar at Shielfield on Saturday.

And with further up and coming home fixtures against the fancied Ipswich, Glasgow (last year’s champions) and Scunthorpe the Bandits know they cannot afford to rest on their laurels.

After a narrow 46-44 home win over Edinburgh in a League Cup fixture at Shielfield on Saturday, number one rider Ricky Ashworth said: “There are no easy meetings in the Premier League this year.

“I don’t think there will be many away wins for clubs this year as most sides look strong at home, but as tonight shows no one can afford to take anything for granted.

“Everyone needs to give it their full concentration over the 15 heats otherwise some sides might just find themselves vulnerable.

“We knew Edinburgh would make it tough for us, but thankfully we managed to remain focused right to the end and we held out for the win.

“The league meetings start next week and we have some tough fixtures coming up, but I think all our lads are up to the challenge. They know what is expected of them and everyone will give it their best shot.”

Ashworth was a surprise inclusion in the Berwick side at the start of the season, replacing the injured Kozza Smith.

But after ten years at Sheffield he says he is now pleased he has made the switch to Shielfield.

“I really love it here,” he said. “Everyone is so friendly and I have got to say that this is probably the best thing that could have happened to me this year.

“I am feeling confident in my own riding and I am really looking forward to the rest of the season.”

By his own admission Ashworth had an up and down weekend.

On Friday he failed to win a race at Armadale as Bandits crashed heavily 59-33 to Edinburgh in a League Cup fixture.

But the following night he was back to his best, top scoring in the two point revenge victory over the Monarchs, winning the vital heat 15 in the process.

“At Edinburgh we couldn’t get out of the starts and that made it difficult for us,” he said. “I didn’t win a race, but in saying that I was satisfied with the way I rode, because I felt really comfortable. That might sound like an odd thing to say but I have had some poor meetings at Armadale in the past. We still have to go back there at least twice this season so in a strange way I am looking forward to that now.

“I think some of our lads might have been caught out by the track tonight,” he added. “When the football is on I know they have difficulty getting in to work on it and sometimes they can’t get as much water onto it as they would like. But I believe the football season is now finished so for the next few weeks at least I don’t think that problem will exist and hopefully the team will be able to find the level of consistency we need to put in a challenge at the right end of the table.”

Remarkably, Berwick have no away fixtures remaining during the month of May so it is all the more important that they manage to achieve a level of home superiority.

Team manager Ian Rae said: “I think we are capable of that because all our riders have shown that they can win races and get points around our own track. We have some tough meetings to start with but I am confident we can get off to a good start to give us a base from which to work for the rest of the league campaign.”

Match report Bandits v Edinburgh on page 30