Team Manager: Eric Boocock
|1. Josh Auty||1*||3||2||3||1||10||1|
|2. Hugh Skidmore||2||2||2*||3||0||9||1|
|3. Josef Franc R/R||0||0|
|4. Richard Hall||1*||2||3||3||3||12||1|
|5. Richard Ashworth||3||3||3||2*||3||14||1|
|6. Siimon Lambert||3||1*||2*||2*||1||2*||11||4|
|7. Ricky Wells||2*||2*||1||0||5||2|
Team Manager: John Campbell
|1. Ryan Fisher||3||3||4||0||0||10||0|
|2. Matthew Wethers||0||0||2||X||2||0|
|3. Kevin Wolbert||0||0||3||2||2||7||0|
|4. Kalle Katajisto||3||1||1||1||6||0|
|5. Andrew Tully||0||1||Fx||1||2||0|
|6. Ashley Morris||R||0||1||1||0|
|7. William Lawson||1||1||0||1*||0||3||1|
We have been hammered many times at Sheffield, but we had won on our last two visits and expected that we would be able to hold on to a 28-point advantage in the second leg of the Premier Playoffs.
We were wrong! Sheffield recorded their highest score of the season as we found it impossible to stem the tide. We kept thinking that, in our usual manner, someone would come up with a ride to turn things our way, but on it went and it didn?t happen.
Pepe Franc was mysteriously absent with no explanation from the home promotion ? in fact he was in a Czech League match.
There was no real hint of problems as Ryan raced off with heat 1. Matthew held third for three laps and was buzzing round Skidmore for second, but with a man like Auty on your tail there is no scope for error. Matthew did make a small one on the first corner of the last lap. And the home no. 1 needed no second bidding to relegate Matthew to fourth.
We were well beaten in heat 2 with Ashley Morris pulling out early, and William Lawson an embarrassing distance behind Lambert and guest Ricky Wells.
Heat 3 didn?t look too promising either with Skidmore and Hall well clear, but with memories of his famous 2007 ride no doubt in his head, Kalle set off on a wide line. First he went past Hall, and then he caught Skidmore on the last corner for a sensational win. Kevin was a mile back.
Andrew Tully packed up early in heat 4 and William again posed no problems for the home pair.
If there?s trouble, call for Fisher. Another good gate, another easy win for Ryan, but Matthew missed the start and in spite of trying very hard, could not pick up anything. He fell on the last bend of lap 3.
Auty and Skidmore then headed Tully easily and at 24-12, we were not where we wanted to be.
Kalle took a TR off gate 4 but this time his attempts to ride out wide were blocked by Lambert and he finished well at the rear, with Kevin again making no impression either.
29-13 and it was starting to get serious. We looked like sharing heat 8 as Skidmore went ahead, but Lawson and Wethers held the minor places. William was so slow that Matthew went up to second, and lo and behold, Wells caught and passed William also ? a huge disappointment.
Andrew lifted at the start of heat 9 but burst past Lambert into second place down the back straight. He was close to Hall on the next bend when he came to grief! Another disaster, an easy home 5-1 in the rerun. 22 behind now, 6 up on aggregate.
At long last Wolbert and Katajisto gated in heat 10. In spite of a wobble Kevin went clear, but Kalle was caught by the ever-charging Auty. Still a 4-2 should help to settle the nerves.
Heat 11 was TR time for Ryan. He gated off the inside and led down the back straight, but Matthew got himself in a tangle with the home pair and came off at the back.
Rerun, Ashworth made the start and even though Ryan chased, he had to settle for a 4-point second place.
In heat 12 we suddenly saw a livelier William Lawson as he challenged Hall for the lead on the first lap. Hall soon went clear but Wolbert and Lawson comfortably kept Wells at the back this time ? only the second last place by a home rider.
We were 8 ahead on aggregate and now needed 6 points over the last three races to scrape through.
In heat 13 Josh Auty was fastest away with Ryan in second, chasing hard. He was comfortably placed for two points, but unfortunately chased too hard and came down. 52-28, it?s slipping away!
As you can imagine the Sheffield fans were now rampant and their riders totally committed. We were not comfortable at all but now looked to Kalle off gate 1 in heat 14.
He didn?t make a great start but managed to squeeze inside the Sheffield pair and edge in front down the back straight. Not for long though ? the Tigers had their wheels in line earlier and both Hall and Lambert passed for their SEVENTH 5-1 of the night. Against the League Champions!
The aggregate score was now 88-88 and we needed a miracle. Even if we shared the last race we were looking at Golden Heats.
They weren?t needed anyway. Ryan off gate 1 fell on the second bend trying to squeeze under Auty and it was all over. Kevin was well behind as Auty and Ashworth led, and the only problem the Tigers had was the display of the chequered flag after three laps! The only one who seemed to notice was Ashworth who slowed, which let Wolbert take a lucky second place.
That was enough though and Sheffield had won 92-90 on aggregate. The stadium erupted and we could only watch and regret all our lost opportunities.
It was the first time we have ever lost a Premier Playoff tie.
The Autumn weather has relented which should ensure Monarchs have the chance to claim a place in the Premier Play-off Final, one step away from a possible showdown with Ipswich Witches, provided they can avoid disaster at Sheffield tonight (7.45).
Going into this match with a 28-point lead gained from another dominant home performance, it would be a major surprise if Edinburgh didn't make it into their third final of this competition in the three years it has been in existence.
But Sheffield will certainly not lie down and there are more things in their favour since Monarchs took a rare Owlerton victory earlier in the season. The Sheffield riders have also been put on notice that they are riding for their 2011 team places.
Josh Awty will be full of confidence after a strong showing in the PLRC on Sunday and will be hoping to improve on his 9 points from Monarchs last visit -and especially his one single point from his personal Armadale nightmare last Friday.
Hugh Skidmore only scored once in four races on Friday and failed to score at all in the last Owlerton match between the sides, so it would be a surprise if he doesn't score more tonight as he will be keen to secure a Premier League return next term.
Josef Franc can be virtually guaranteed a double figure score and Richard Hall returns to the side after his jaunt to Finland when rider replacement produced a generous seven points. But he is much more comfortable around Sheffield and should score well.
Ricky Ashworth again had a quiet night at Armadale but will be difficult to beat on a track which he really flies around. Expect a double figure score from the rider who would have dearly loved to have been given the chance to defend his PLRC title.
On Monarchs last visit, Dakota North only scored one point as a guest for Paul Cooper. This time the Tigers have Ricky Wells who can be expected to improve on that score ? and he faces Ashley Morris, not former Sheffield rider Arlo Bugeja.
Simon Lambert at No.7 will also be on a high after winning the Golden Helmet individual meeting at Wolverhampton on Tuesday. He is another who must feel his 2011 place may be in some doubt which will make him all the more determined.
On Monarchs side of the pits, Ryan Fisher will again be the main man after coming so close to winning the PLRC at this track on Sunday. After that they will rely on the rest of the side to provide the consistent support that their strength in depth gives them.
But the Edinburgh team will be slightly down on scoring power with the absence of the German rider who has proved such a crucial piece of the jigsaw this year, Kevin Wolbert. And of course young Ashley Morris is still very much finding his feet at this level.
Monarchs pulled off a sensational eight-point win in the League fixture but it should be a lot closer this time. Edinburgh supporters will be happy just to see the side come through the match unscathed with an aggregate win ? no matter what the score.
SHEFFIELD TIGERS: Josh Awty, Hugh Skidmore, Rider replacement for Richard Hall, Josef Franc, Ricky Ashworth (capt), Ricky Wells (guest), Simon Lambert.
SCOTWASTE MONARCHS: Ryan Fisher, Matthew Wethers (capt.), Kevin Wolbert, Kalle Katajisto, Andrew Tully, Ashley Morris, William Lawson.