Bandits hope to get their speedway season back on track
Standing in their way are the brooding presences of Redcar Bears on Friday and the high-flying Glasgow Tigers who visit Shielfield Park on Saturday night, 7pm.
There is a welcome return from injury for Leon Flint and Ty Proctor who have been out of action since crashing within 24 hours of each other at the start of the month.
Teenager Flint badly dislocated his shoulder in a freak clash with team-mate Theo Pijper on the cool-down lap in Berwick’s 54-36 home victory over Newcastle on April 30.
The following day Australian Proctor suffered neck and nerve damage after a first ride crash in the return fixture at Brough Park.
But the Bandits continue to be without Jye Etheridge who faces another couple of weeks on the sidelines after fracturing a previously plated collarbone when Friday’s combatants met in the Championship at Shielfield Park 13 days’ ago, a meeting Redcar won by four points. Etheridge, who up to that stage had only dropped one point at Shielfield, crashed on on the first bend of the first race, and his withdrawl was a key moment in the meeting.
Berwick will be using rider-replacement for Etheridge – who is tentatively eyeing a return to action in two to three weeks – for both meetings with Flint, Proctor, Pijper and reserve Kyle Bickley all eligible to take his rides, along with the number eight – Luke Crang at Redcar and Greg Blair – who guests for Edinburgh on Friday night – against the Tigers.
Bickley scored six points as a guest for Edinburgh at Redcar last Sunday while Proctor began his British career with the Cleveland outfit and Flint played a starring role when the teams drew the league match at the Ecco Arena last season.
Redcar welcome back reserve Jordan Jenkins after a knee injury sidelined him against Edinburgh.
On Saturday Glasgow visit in what has, in recent seasons, proved to be one of the meetings of the season.
They are still smarting over dropping home points against Poole last time out but arrive knowing that they won both clashes in the Borders last season.
Number one Craig Cook is a former track record holder, Ulrich Ostergaard and Tom Brennan also have impressive records at Berwick while highly-rated Dane Benjamin Basso will be making his first appearance there.
Gary Flint said: “I was delighted when Leon and Ty declared themselves available for selection at the start of the week. With four other teams in action of Friday night the choice of replacements had they not been available would have been limited to say the least.
“They are bound to be a little rusty after such a long time off the bike but both have been helping their team-mates in the pits while they have been sidelined and were desperate to get back on their bikes.
“We know that we have to keep our eye on the ball in every race this weekend as the odd point won or lost is likely to be decisive in two evenly matched encounters.
“Redcar ride Shielfield well and we generally go well there so there is not going to be much in it. Any race over the two legs could be the one that decides which of us will reach the semi-finals.
“We’ve got to be switched on from heat one all the way through to 15.
“And the same goes on Saturday as Glasgow will not give us any respite and will pounce on any errors or misfortune.
“But we know that we have it within us to beat anyone, home or away, on any given night.
“Since the fixture list first came out many of our fans have been waiting for the visit of Glasgow.
“Bomber (Chris Harris) against Cookie (Craig Cook) is obvious box office but every heat has tasty match-ups with four ex-Tigers in our line-up possibly with a point to prove and they will ultimately decide who gets the points.
“It’s going to be a weekend when everyone needs to be at the top of their game – including the fans who have a big part to play in what has become a real must-see meeting.
“It’s a shame that Jye is still sidelined – he thrives in these kind of situations – but a real boost to have Leon and Ty back.”
Redcar beat Oxford 94-86 on aggregate in the first round of the cup while Berwick received a bye. The second leg will be raced at Shielfield Park on Saturday 11 June.
Tapes-up 7.30pm at Redcar on Friday, 7pm Shielfield on Saturday.
Anyone buying tickets online can add under-16s to their ticket free of charge. See link below.
Berwick FTS Bandits: 1 Chris Harris, 2 R/R (Jye Etheridge), 3 Theo Pijper, 4 Leon Flint, 5 Ricky Wells, 6 Ty Proctor, 7 Kyle Bickley, 8 Redcar: Luke Crang, Glasgow: Greg Blair.
Redcar Agilia Bears: 1 Charles Wright, 2 Adam Roynon, 3 Erik Riss, 4 Kasper Andersen, 5 Lewis Kerr, 6 Jason Edwards, 7 Jordan Jenkins.
Glasgow Allied Vehicle Tigers: 1 Craig Cook, 2 Danyon Hume, 3 Ulrich Ostergaard, 4 Benjamin Basso, 5 Tom Brennan, 6 Broc Nicol 4.94, 7 Connor Bailey.