BEN Barker suffered a broken collarbone in a heat 12 fall as Plymouth Gladiators fell to a 49-41 home defeat to Redcar Bears in front of a big crowd at The Coliseum last night.

It sums up the bad luck the club have been having this season that the in-form Barker – who managed a superb third place in the British Final at Belle Vue on Monday – should get injured the following day.

They are already without Dan Thompson, who dislocated his shoulder even before he had the chance to make his debut for Plymouth.

It was Plymouth's first home meeting in eight weeks and it seemed to take them a while to get used to their home track again.

Track conditions seemed pretty good, with Redcar's Danny King going within 0.71 seconds of the track record in heat four, but there were still a number of falls throughout the evening that made it a very stop-start affair.

The Gladiators' problem in the early part of the meeting was gating, with Redcar providing five of the first six heat winners.

There was never more than four points between the two teams until heat 12, when Barker's exclusion after his first-bend fall saw Redcar take a 5-1 to seal the aggregate bonus point (97-82), but Plymouth hit back straight away with a 5-1 of their own from top two Kyle Howarth and Richie Worrall over King.

However, Redcar sealed victory with a 5-1 from impressive former Plymouth reserve Jason Edwards and the rejuvenated Erik Riss in heat 14.

Despite it being a meaningless heat in the context of the match, the last race proved to be the highlight of the night, with King, Worrall, Riss and Howarth going flat out in a titanic four-lap battle that King eventually won.

Worrall had a fine night for Gladiators with paid 13 from five rides, and one huge positive was the home debut for Australian James Pearson, who scored paid nine including two race wins.

But the tail end of the team struggled, with guest Lee Complin, an out-of-sorts Dan Gilkes and Ben Trigger only managing seven points between them.

Gladiators' promoter Mark Phillips said: "I would like to say a massive thank you to every one of the fans who turned up to witness the highs and lows of the sport. 750 people descended upon the Coliseum for a meeting which was full of incidents.

"I was delighted with the spectator numbers and delighted to get a home fixture completed after an eight-week run.

"We now seriously need to up our game if we are to make the play-offs."

Plymouth's next meeting is against Glasgow Warriors next Tuesday (7pm).

Plymouth: Richie Worrall 12+1 (5 rides), James Pearson 8+1 (6), Kyle Howarth 7 (5), Ben Barker 7 (4), Lee Complin 3+1 (3), Dan Gilkes 2+2 (4), Ben Trigger 2+1 (3).

Redcar: Erik Riss 14+1 (6), Danny King 14 (6), Jason Edwards 10 (6), Connor Bailey 7+2 (5), Danyon Hume 3+2 (4), Luke Harrison 1+1 (3).