Berwick FTS Bandits, powered by Keenwood Karpets, continue to be frustrated by officialdom as they prepare for tonight’s double header with Plymouth.
Jonas Knudsen’s work permit remains stuck in a backlog at United Kingdom Visa and Immigration which means he is again left following the action from his home in Denmark. In his absence Redcar’s Jordan Jenkins guests for Berwick, forming a reserve partnership with Nathan Stoneman three nights after the pair both scored paid maximums for Oxford’s National Development League side, the Chargers.
Opponents Plymouth Gladiators were also forced into a late change by officialdom, former Berwick number one Ben Barker’s suspension continuing while he waits for the results of his B sample after he suffered a non-negative result to a random alcohol and drugs test.
They will operate rider-replacement for him – as they did in last night’s 42-48 defeat at Edinburgh – with another Bear, and former Bandit, Kasper Andersen guesting for Alfie Bowtell who suffered knee ligament damage last weekend.
Redcar’s Lewis Kerr will look to put the disappointment of being released by Premiership side King’s Lynn this week – and replaced by former Bandit Aaron Summers – as he guests for season-long absentee Edward Kennett at number one.
Berwick will hope that Ricky Wells and Theo Pijper can maintain the form they showed as guests for Birmingham at Glasgow last night.
And Leon Flint, whose 13+2 haul in the number one race jacket as Kennett’s replacement at Edinburgh almost led the Gladiators to a shock victory, is back in more familiar surroundings tonight.
An international audience got to see, via the British Speedway Network coverage of the meeting, just how much progress the British under-19 champion has made this season as he scorched to victories over track specialists Josh Pickering and Richard Lawson.
But tonight his attention is on ensuring his home-town Bandits halt a run of seven home fixtures without victory – the only joy a 45-all draw with Poole – in what is their penultimate Championship fixture of 2022.
“We’re gutted that Jonas is still without a visa,” Berwick promoter and team manager Gary Flint said.
“UKVI had indicated that we would have had it last week but despite the efforts of the club we cannot budge it.
“But Jordan Jenkins is in good form for the Bears – and the Oxford Chargers – and has scored heavily around Shielfield this season.
“No question the inclusion of Kasper gives Plymouth a menacing look, along with Lewis Kerr Plymouth have picked their guests well and it is going to be another tough test for us.
“But I think that last week, despite the loss to Glasgow, we showed some real determination to turn it around.”
Following the Championship fixture the Bullets wrap up their home National Development League campaign when they face league newcomers Plymouth Centurions.
Harry McGurk doubles up as Plymouth’s number one in the second match after acting as a reserve in the Championship fixture in place of the injured Dan Gilkes while his brother, Sam, guests for new signing Adam Roynon who is racing for Scunthorpe at Leicester.
Former Berwick Academy 125 rider, Sam, scored 7+4 for Belle Vue Colts last night as they thumped a Kent side including Greg Blair, six points, 64-26 to keep up the pressure for play-off spots.
Blair’s team-mate Kieran Douglas returns after shaking off injuries suffered in the cup defeat at Leicester.
Plymouth are in action at Armadale this afternoon, 2.30pm, with Bullets’ Kyle Bickley guesting.
The first race at Shielfield starts at 6.30pm tonight as Berwick’s track staff prepare to fit 30 races into three hours of non-stop action.
Tickets are available from berwickspeedway.com/tickets and accompanied children can be registered for free admission with online tickets purchased.
There is also a cash turnstile but there is no facility to accept card payments.
Bandits: Chris Harris, Theo Pijper, Jye Etheridge, Leon Flint, Ricky Wells, Jordan Jenkins (guest), Nathan Stoneman.
Gladiators: Lewis Kerr (guest), Kasper Andersen, Ben Barker Rider/Replacement, Michael Palm Toft, Hans Andersen, Ben Morley, Harry McGurk.
Bullets: Kyle Bickley, Ace Pijper, Mason Watson, Luke Crang, Greg Blair, Kieran Douglas, Ben Rathbone.
Centurions: Harry McGurk (guest), Ben Trigger rider-replacement, Richard Andrews, Sam McGurk, Adam Extance, David Abraham, Rhys Naylor