PREVIEW Thursday 7th September 2017, 6:00pm
It’ll be double vision for the Parsons Peebles Monarchs this week as we host both the Workington Comets and Ipswich Witches in SGB Championship action.
With the cut off date for fixtures to be completed that count towards the standings getting nearer it is imperative as many matches are run as possible over the coming days to not hinder the Monarchs playoff chances.
With that in mind the double header has been agreed to help us complete our home fixtures at least.
While the Monarchs will be looking for maximum points to allow us to leapfrog Redcar back into 4th place bit this will be no easy task against two strong looking teams.
First up will be Workington who while on a poor run of form have an abundance of Armadale pedigree throughout none more so than at number 1 where Monarchs legend Craig Cook resides. Cook needs no introduction to the Armadale faithful and may well class this as the best year of his career being that he clinched his first ever British Championship and barring a late season collapse by Patryk Dudek will also become a full time GP rider next year after a tremendous effort in Togliatti in the GP Challenge. This is nothing short of what Cookie deserves for the dedication he has put into his craft and as he is still a Monarchs asset we will still claim him as one of our own when he takes to the track in the Grand Prix next year.
Number 2 is another familiar face around Armadale although perhaps not in a riding sense in Mason Campton. Mason acts as Ricky’s mechanic when available and is a popular visitor to the Dale whenever he does. This knowledge of set ups etc coupled with the fact he is currently enjoying the best season of his career means that he cannot be counted out for a big score and with a double digit score in his past he will take some beating form a second string slot.
Ty Proctor starts off the engine room of the Comets team and is another enjoying a fine season. This is perhaps down to finding a level of consistency in a team place that has been lacking for the past few years as Ty has suffered visa and injury concerns. An average of close to 8 is a good season’s work and Proctor is another all out trier who can never be counted out in any given race.
Matt Williamson joins Proctor in the middle order and it has to be said it has been an up and down season for Williamson, he started the season on fire putting over 2 points on his average and moving from reserve to the main body of the team. Points have been a little harder to come by since the promotion but another with a good record at Armadale including a 9 point score last season a return to early season form for Matt and the Monarchs may well be in trouble.
Completing the main body of the team is Thomas Jorgensen. Jorgensen was a popular announcement when he signed for the Comets over the winter but he will be the first to admit things have not gone exactly as planned in a frustratingly inconsistent season for the Dane. When out in front there are few quicker riders in all of the league but hitting the front has often been the problem and an average of just over 7 for the season will be well shy of Jorgensen’s expectations although it may well make him an attractive proposition for many a promoter next year
The main Achilles heel for the Comets recently has come at the bottom end where James Sarjeant at number 6 has truly struggled. Sarjeant looked to have solidified himself as a second string after his spell with Ipswich last season and was unfortunate to fall victim to the numbers game and be without a team place at seasons start. A move back to Ippo to cover for Kyle Newman was to follow before he eventually replaced Adam Roynon at Worky. This move has not worked out as either had hoped as the young Englishman has struggled mightily. On his day Sarjeant is a quick starting and combative rider and he will be desperate to show what he is made of the remainder of the season to endure he does not start next season on the sidelines once again.
Compounding the Comets misery at reserve was the recent departure of Rob Shuttleworth. Shuttleworth deciding that he wanted to concentrate on National League commitments. With the deadline passed and a paucity of available guests this has left the Cumbrians particularly weak at number 7 and they will be looking for Ryan MacDonald to stem the tide for them at Armadale.
So after the first meeting is completed we will look at around a 20 minute break before match 2 comes to the tapes and what a match it looks to be. Ipswich are one of the strongest outfits in the league as witnessed by their 2nd place position in the table and boast a host of Armadale pedigree as well.
Now a fixture in leading the Witches is Danny King, King has been as dominant as ever in the Championship this year and is undoubtedly one of the top men in the division. A noted Armadale performer with a paid 15 score to his name among multiple double digit returns the fast charging King is another who you expect to be there or thereabouts in every heat he is in.
Rider replacement operates at number 2 for the Witches and while all bar King and Schlein can cover these rides missing Justin Sedgmen is a big loss particularly at the Dale.
Another rider missing is at number 3 in the form of Cameron Heeps, the Witches are hopeful Heeps will be back in time for the playoffs but until then guests take his place and into the ranks for this meeting comes Workington’s Thomas Jorgensen.
Currently enjoying the best form of his season is number 4 Kyle Newman. Another who is liked wherever he goes Newman has sometimes struggled to find the quickest way around Armadale despite it being a track he says he enjoys and is always keen to visit. Newman’s recent form has been exceptional with multiple double digit scores for Leicester in the Premiership and if he shows that kind of scoring power again it could be a long evening for the Monarchs.
Number 5 and forming one of the most potent spearheads in the league is Rory Schlein. There is not much that can be said about the Roo Boy that hasn’t been said already a Monarchs league winning legend all the way back in 2003 Rory must go down as one of the best ever finds by the Monarchs and with a long and varied career both in the UK and Europe over the preceding years the one frustration that Rory may have is he never truly showed his class on the world level this perhaps being down to some nasty injuries along the way.
If Workington’s weakness has been at reserve then the exact opposite must be said for Ipswich. Taking a gamble on a pair of 2 point average riders paid off as the two were picked cannily firstly Danyon Hume before he suffered s badly broken arm and was replaced by Nathan Greaves. Greaves is showing the development of riding in all 3 divisions over the past couple of seasons is paying off and has been a strong and steady scorer for the Witches since his mid season arrival.
Last but certainly not least is Connor Mountain. Mountain will go down as one of the few success stories of the fast track reserve system this season and can be delighted with his effort’s that have seen him add over 1.2 points to his average and with Greaves alongside him the battle of the reserves against Max and Mitchell may just be what decides the outcome of this match.
So there you have it 2 tough looking visiting outfits looking to poise problems to the Blue and Gold septet. What a delight it is to call them a septet again as after the recent returns of Mark and Sam the Monarchs can now field their full declared 1-7 for the first time since the middle of June. This could be a massive boost as we look to clinch a spot and then compete in the playoffs. With thanks to all that replaced them when they were out there is nothing better than having your own line-up in place particularly when one of the riders missing was our captain and if all come back fit and firing and slot back into place quickly then the challenge could be on for that 5th title in 10 years.
So the track is prepped, the covers are down to keep off any rain and the line-ups are set so it’s all go as the Monarchs go looking for the points required to clinch the playoff berth. Can we do it? There’s only one place to find out and that is trackside. See you there!