Berwick Bandits 52, Scunthorpe Scorpions 38: Despite a heavy fall, and two broken fingers, sustained by skipper Lee Complin, Berwick battled hard to earn a deserved League Cup victory over Scunthorpe at Shielfield.
Complin fell heavilly in his opening ride (heat three) when he clattered into the new polyfoan safety fence trying to avoid Michael Palm Toft as he roared up behind him.
His bike was wrecked, and he spent around 15 minutes being examined by medical staff at the scene in an ambulance before emerging with two broken fingers and a few other aches and pains.
But the captain literally picked himself up and with his fingers strapped, he climbed back into the saddle to score seven points from his three remaining rides, including a heat win, which helped swing the balance of the meeting.
Scunthorpe, who beat Berwick on the opening night of the season in Lincolnshire, proved to be stiff opposition and a series of six successive 4-2s, all shared by the teams, meant the sides were locked together at 18-all after six races.
David Howe, a popular guest for Berwick in the past, once again showed his liking for the track by winning his two opening rides, inflicting the only defeat of the night on Ricky Ashworth in the process in heat one.
Josh Auty, who had a tremendous scrap with Alex Edberg for second place behind Seb Alden in heat four, was always in the thick of the action, and with former Bandit Tero Aarnio scoring every time he was out the visitors were always in contention.
Alden and Edberg made the initial breakthrough with the first 5-1 in seven, but the Scorpions hit straight back with a maximum of their own through Ashley Birks and Thomas Jorgensen in eight and it was level again at 24-24.
With Complin and David Bellego following Auty home in nine, at 27-all it was obvious the meeting was going to be close, and Berwick, if they were going to take all three match points on offer, needed their big guns firing to put in a big finish.
Ricky Ashworth, still feeling the effects of his lower back injury, was first to step up to the plate with a win in ten, Edberg taking third to put Bandits two in front, and when Alden and the impressive Lubos Tomicek took a 5-1 over Jorgensen and a surprised Howe in 11, suddenly they had some breathing space at 36-30.
Complin’s win in 12 kept the pot boiling, as did Ashworth’s third victory of the night in 13.
Bellego then popped up with his now customary heat 14 success, Tomicek, who was unbeaten in the three races he finished, following him home for a match-winning 5-1.
However, the bonus point was still up for grabs. Scunthorpe needed a 5-1 to snatch it, but with Ashworth and Alden both flying from the gate, in what looked like a pre-rehearsed first bend, the pair sped away for a 5-1 of their own which some might say put a rather flattering look (14 points margin) on the final scoreline.
After the meeting team manager Ian Rae said he was relieved to get that one out of the way.
“Scunthorpe have made a good start to the season and we knew they would be no push-overs,” he said.
“They beat us well down there and we were desperate to avenge that defeat, but at 27-all after nine heats, and with Lee Complin carrying his injury, I thought we were up against it.
“However, the lads all rose to the challenge over the final heats.
“Lee had his fingers strapped, and a lesser man might have called it a day and withdrawn from the meeting, but he decided to carry on and his seven points, including a race win, were invaluable.
“Ricky rode well all night and dropped only one point, and Seb was also unbeaten in four of his races.
“Alex battled hard for all his points and David came good towards the end, but I think it was Lubos who impressed the most.
“He was unbeaten in the three races he finished and so far, since signing as a replacement for Michael Hertrich, he has been nothing short of a revelation for us at reserve because he has scored well in every meeting.”
Berwick - Ashworth 14, Alden 11+1, Tomicek 7+2, Complin 7, Bellego 6+1, Edberg 5+1, King 2. Scunthorpe - Howe 9, Auty 8+1, Aarnio 8, Birks 6+1, Jorgensen 5+1, Toft 2, Hart 0.