Greensheets spell changes
26 May 2023
There’ll be a new leader of the pack when your FTS Bandits,…
Skipper Kyle Bickley is available to lead the Grant Henderson Tankers Berwick Bullets as they hit the road to Manchester on Friday.
He had originally been set to miss out on a return to his former club after signing for Championship Newcastle last week. With the Diamonds scheduled to race at Redcar on Friday Bickley’s replacement in the Bandits’ line-up, Nathan Stoneman, who also rides for Oxford Chargers in the National Development League, was due to guest at number one against the Colts.
But the news breaking overnight on Monday that Diamonds boss Rob Grant had withdrawn his club from the league left Bickley, who twice reached the play-offs with the Colts earlier in his career, available allowing the table-topping Bullets to field the same side which beat another NDL title contender, Mildenhall, on Saturday night.
The Colts are without their newly-recruited number one Jake Mulford, recruited as a replacement for the retired Jack Parkinson-Blackburn. The Norwich-based racer is competing at a FIM European grasstrack qualifier this weekend and Belle Vue are due to use rider-replacement to cover him.
The Colts currently lie fourth in the NDL table, their nine points coming from a big season-opening win at Plymouth and equally comprehensive home victories over Armadale, 69-21, and Oxford, 57-33, but they have also been well beaten on the road at Leicester and, in May, 55-35 at Shielfield – Bickley and Greg Blair both scoring paid maximums on a memorable night for the Bullets against many judges’ pre-season favourites.
Former Bandits’ Academy man Harry McGurk has since joined Plymouth’s Championship side, making his debut in the win over the Bandits while Nathan Ablitt doubles up with title-chasing Poole.
Bullets coach Kevin Little said: “It’s been another difficult week for Kyle but, as he showed against Mildenhall on Saturday, once the racing head goes on that’s all background noise and there are not many better riders in the NDL.
“It’s good to keep winning at home but the lads have all been patiently waiting for another road trip and they don’t need any motivation to do well against Belle Vue.
“Obviously it’s a great racing track but one where you can never relax even in front. Kyle and Ben are both ex-Colts so that will help while Ace has ridden the NSS many times in practice and the youth series and the rest all had a taste of what to expect last season.
“With this meeting and then Leicester back-to-back in the Knockout Cup next weekend it is the sort of regular racing schedule that the lads have been wanting all season.”
Colts: Jake Mulford R/R, Sam McGurk, Harry McGurk, Nathan Ablitt, Jack Smith, Archie Freeman, Freddy Hodder.
Bullets: Kyle Bickley, Mason Watson, Ace Pijper, Greg Blair, Luke Crang, Kieran Douglas, Ben Rathbone.