Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Bears Bid to Book Their Place in Final; Speedway

Newspaper article Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)

Bears Bid to Book Their Place in Final; Speedway

Article excerpt

Byline: MARTIN NEAL

SILVERWARE-SEEKING Redcar Bears can all but secure their place in the Premier Challenge Trophy final tonight.

And promoter Brian Havelock is feeling confident ahead of the Practical Car and Van Rental Bears visit to Berwick (7pm) - although he's warned they will need to improve upon their performance at Glasgow last Sunday.

The Northern Group remains intensely contested going into the final fixtures of the mini-league, with all sorts of permutations possible.

The Bears must wait until Berwick have visited Glasgow a week tomorrow to find out for definite whether they'll be in their first national final since beating Birmingham to win the 2007 Young Shield, the forerunner of the PCT.

But a point for finishing within seven points of their hosts would leave Berwick needing a big win north of the Border to knock the Bears off the top.

And, with a real possibility that qualification could come down to aggregate points, Havelock believes that simply finishing within 18 points of the Bandits this evening could be enough to send them through to meet the Southern Group winners at home and away in the final.

"It's a big one tonight, there's no doubt about that," said Havelock.

"And I think we can do it. If you look at how they've been going, you've got to feel quietly confident about our chances.

"But the lads have got to want it.

"When we lost at Glasgow last weekend, none of our top three scored more than four points - and that has to change.

"They all need to go out and ride to their potential and, if they do that, we can reach the final."

Last time the Bears visited Shielfield Park, in May, they gave one of their worst ever Premier League performances and crashed 65-28.

But only two of the riders who finished that meeting will be in the septet that heads to the Borders tonight.

The spirit as well as the make-up of the team has changed beyond recognition since then.

All the visiting riders except Ulrich Ostergaard - who scored 17 points - struggled on a night when rider replacement was used to cover for Matej Kus, NL guest Byron Bekker came in for the unavailable Max Dilger, while Carl Wilkinson was taken to hospital after a heavy fall in heat three to bring his night's work to an early end.

Among the riders to have arrived since then is former Berwick battler Jade Mudgway who scored nine points from reserve at his old track on a guest appearance for Glasgow last month.

Berwick have suffered from their share of injuries this season, with skipper Lee Complin announcing his retirement this week. No 1 Ricky Ashworth remains ruled out too so Nick Morris takes a guest booking.

The Bears had originally set aside this coming Thursday as a potential home date for the home leg of the final. …

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