Second home defeat has alarm bells ringing for Bandits

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BERWICK BANDITS 42 EDINBURGH MONARCHS 48: Edinburgh put themselves in the driving seat for qualification from their League Cup group with this win at Shielfield on Saturday.

At the same time the defeatsent some alarm bells ringing around Shielfield.

For Berwick, who were without skipper Ricky Ashworth, who had aggravated an old injury in the British semi-finals at Edinburgh the night before, used rider replacement to cover, but as they were not firing on all cylinders it was the Monarchs who snatched a confidence boosting victory as the Borderers slipped to their second successive home defeat.

David Bellego, who was unbeaten in his first four rides, Kozza Smith and Matty Wethers all put up some resistance, but with the rest of the Bandits struggling to find their form Edinburgh always looked the more likely victors.

Bellego produced a fantastic burst from the back in heat one, coming from last to first to pip a surprised Craig Cook up the inside off the last bend.

But thereafter Cook went unbeaten and with valuable contributions from Claus Vissing, who also only dropped one point, Theo Pijper and reserve Jozsef Tabaka, the Bandits failed to bounce back from their home KO Cup reverse at the hands of Redcar a week earlier.

Once again Berwick found themselves sluggish out of the gates. The track was a little bit grippier than the previous week, and afforded a handful of passing opportunities, but in general the riders found that if they didn’t hit the first bend in front it was difficult to find a way through, especially around the traditional outside line.

There was never much between the sides for the majority of the meeting, although it was Edinburgh who held the slight upper hand in the first half, keeping their noses in front at 26-28 after heat nine, with Bellego and Vissing the main protagonists up to that stage.

Bellego then teamed up with Smith for a 5-1 in ten which put the Bandits in front for the only time on the night at 31-29, for Edinburgh hit straight back with a maximum of their own, courtesy of reserve switch Tabaka and Cook in 11 and after that the visitors were never headed.

Cook (in the fastest time of the season around the Border track) and Vissing sped from the gate for a 1-5 in 13 which stretched the Monarchs’ lead to 36-42.

Wethers and Nicki Barrett hit back with a damage limitation 5-1 of their own in 14, forcing a last heat decider, but again Vissing and Cook were quickest from the gate in 15 and once they hit the front it was a foregone conclusion.

Team manager Ian Rae was clearly disappointed with the result when he said afterwards: “We’ve got to sort out our gating as a priority, for yet again that left us too far back by the time they got to the first bend.

“But there are other concerns within the side and we will be ironing all of them out long before our next match.”

After the meeting the entire Berwick team took to the track to discuss the preparation with club director and curator George Hepburn, who said the riders wanted a ‘less grippy’ surface.