|1. George Stancl||3||2*||2||2||1*||10||2|
|2. Derek Sneddon||2*||3||3||0||8||1|
|3. Kaj Laukkanen||3||2||1||2||8||0|
|4. Andrew Tully||0||1*||3||0||4||1|
|5. Kalle Katajisto||0||0||0||0||0|
|6. Aaron Summers||1||0||0||1||0|
|7. Matthew Wethers||3||2||2||2*||3||3||2||17||1|
|1. Ulrich Ostergaard||1||3||1||1||6||0|
|2. Ben Powell||0||0||1||1||0|
|3. Jason Lyons||2||3||1||4||3||3||16||0|
|4. Henrik Moller||1*||1||3||1*||6||2|
|5. Emillano Sanchez||3||1||X||3||X||7||0|
|6. Lee Smart||2||0||2||1||2||7||0|
|7. Manuel Hauzinger||0||1||0||1||0|
The first ever visit of Birmingham to Armadale proved to be an exciting and enjoyable occasion with a 4-point win for the Scotwaste Monarchs.
It was the proverbial ?match of two halves? with Monarchs starting strongly and racing into a 12-point lead by heat 9, in which Sanchez fell while on his TR.
That should have closed the door on the Brummies but they chipped away at the lead with four successive heat advantages, each by 2 points.
Matthew Wethers was the most successful home rider once again, and his race wins in heat 11 (against Ostergaard and TS Lyons) and heat 14 were instrumental in retaining the lead.
He came out for his seventh ride in heat 15 and again played a crucial role. With Lyons clear in front and Stancl being pressed by Sanchez (who had passed him in heat 13), Matthew slipped past the Argentinian into third spot off the fourth bend on lap two.
Trying to regain ground and win the second place his team needed, Sanchez went into the boards on the pits bend and the match was decided.
In the early stages Derek Sneddon was a big player, teaming up well with George Stancl. They took a comfortable 5-1 over Ostergaard in heat 1, then combined superbly for another over Sanchez in heat 6.
Stancl had the lead with Sneddon pressing on the outside of Sanchez. George quickly sized up the situation and concentrated on closing the inside line, allowing Derek to sweep round to join him. It was well done and successful.
We also saw Aaron Summers gain a good third in heat 2, backing up Matthew?s first win, and an excellent first ride by Kaj Laukkanen who kept a watchful eye on Jason Lyons.
Heat 7 was a fine battle, Wethers passing Lyons off the second bend but being caught by the veteran Aussie later in the heat.
We took our regular 5-1 from heat 8 and when Sanchez fell in heat 9, that should have been that.
Although Andrew Tully shot to the front in the heat 9 rerun, Kaj was successfully blocked out by Lee Smart.
Heat 10 was another good one as Moller used the inside of turn two, and was pressed all the way by Stancl who in turn had to watch Lyons? passing attempts.
Lyons took a TS in heat 10 but Matthew?s exfellent win restricted the Brummies to a 5-3.
Lyons got his revenge on Laukkanen in heat 12, then heat 13 was another fine heat. Stancl led for much of the race but was always under pressure from the charging Sanchez, who took advantage of George?s slip off the fourth turn on lap three.
Four up with two to go, but Matthew took 5 more points to total a career-best paid 18 and secure the two points.
There will be few fans around, if any, who can remember the last time Edinburgh faced a home match against the Birmingham Brummies. The new boys to the league arrive at Armadale on Friday with a very impressive line-up.
While welcoming Birmingham to Armadale for the first time ever it is with some nervousness we look at the strength of the team they will be tracking on Friday.
The opening pairing consists of Ulrich Ostergaard and Ben Powell. Ostergaard rode for the Isle of Wight in the Premier League before moving up to the Elite League with Peterborough. Now with the new Brummies side he has proved to be one of the top heat leaders in the league. Ben Powell has just moved up from reserve into the main body of the team and it remains to be seen how he adapts to that after scoring well at reserve.
The middle pairing looks to be as formidable a one as we are likley to meet at Armadale. Jason Lyons has top line experience at both Premier and Elite League and is very much the class performer of the side. His partner is not exactly an unknown quantity to us. Henrik Moller returns after a very short absence from the Monarchs team to cross to the other side of the pits attempting this time to scupper our hopes. He made a sparkling debut for the Brummies on Wednesday night when he figured in two 5-1 heat wins for his new side as they ran up a comfortable win against Glasgow. With 3 points from his other two races he was credited with 8+1 on the night, punching way above his average. A similar performance on Friday will probably be too much for us to handle!
The third Brummies' pairing might have looked to be a bit of an Achilles heel since Emiliano Sanchez blows hot and cold and probably wouldn't rate Armadale as one of his best tracks. However Birmingham pack a real punch at reserve these days with Lee Smart carding some impressive scores and, rare visitor to Armadale and another newcomer to the visitors' ranks, Manuel Hauzinger making some fast starts also to run up some big points tallies.
All in all this Brummies side may well turn out to be the strongest opposition we have to face between now and the end of the season. It will be a tough test for the boys in blue and gold although they will draw strength from the excellent performance last week when Mildenhall were seen off with some ease.
Hopefully George Stancl will find that extra bit of oomph he seemed to be lacking from his engine last week to hit his first maximum of the season while Derek Sneddon will turn in another captain's performance at number 2.
Kai Laukkanen looked impressive last week and, once he gets his set up right for Armadale, there are potential maximums from him too in the not too distant future. Andrew Tully looked lively last week and must surely be on the verge of a big return once he makes a few decent starts.
What about Kalle Katajisto? In each of his races last week, including those in the second half, he looked better and better. It's hard to believe he's so young but he gave notice of great things to come. It's too early yet to expect him to contribute much to the team total but it will be fascinating watching him progress each week. With Matthew Wethers in such impressive form and taking most of the third pairing rides we continue to look for huge scores from him which puts a lot of responsibility on his shoulders. His efforts last week were absolutely brilliant and he probably didn't get as much recognition as he might with so much attention being diverted elsewhere on a memorable night. Aaron Summers continues at reserve and we will remember that it was his second place for the 5-1 in heat 2 last week which not only surprised us all, including him!, which set the match alight. A repeat of that could do the same again.
The important thing is to build on last week's feel-good performance. We might have wished for less of a challenge that the current Birmingham team bolstered by Henrik but that's the way the fixtures have worked out for us. I have an uneasy feeling that this match has come too early for the new team and may prove to be unwinnable. Speedway is a strange sport, however, and I felt a bit like that last week so who knows? I know we will get right behind the new side and give them all the support we can in getting a result from this match.
Friday 27th July 2007, 11:59pm
The Scotwaste Monarchs made a strong start and held off a Brummies fightback to win 48-44 in a last heat decider.
Tuesday 24th July 2007, 9:00pm
The Scotwaste Monarchs race three matches this weekend starting with the first ever visit of Birmingham to Armadale on Friday.