The Staggs Bar Monarchs came through a match which was tight for much of the evening to win 51-39 in the end against Berwick Bandits. With the scores level at heat 5 and just a two-point lead after heat 11, it was by no means easy.
Alex Harkess said “It was a much better match than last week on a good track, and most of our side performed well enough. There are still a few things to work on. I was delighted to see Ricky Wells gating so well.”
They were under the watchful eye of Sam Masters, Monarchs’ former captain and double league winner. He will have been impressed. The mainstay of the home side was Ricky Wells who made five perfect starts, had to fight off some strong early challenges, but finished with a full maximum. He has struggled to find his best Armadale form so far but this was an immaculate display.
Monarchs also had very sound performances from Mark Riss (10+1) and Josh Pickering (11+1), plus a very entertaining display by their guest Thomas Jorgensen. The Dane was excluded from his first ride after very nearly pulling off a brilliant double overtake on the opening lap, but he recovered to take a race win and finally ensure victory by backing Ricky Wells to a fine 5-1 after a brilliant double spearhead move on the first bend of heat 13. Thomas will be welcome back any time.
There would be no complaints either about the efforts of Matt Williamson (5+1, gating well) or Joel Andersson (3+1), both fighting hard either to hold their positions or to improve them. Bags of effort from these two.
Funnily enough the least productive Monarch on this occasion was the one of the new boys who has shown the most promise thus far - Max Ruml. He was fighting hard and not off the pace, but could only manage a single point. With the match won he was left in heat 14 to give him a chance to prove himself, only for a bike problem to rule him out.
Kevin Doolan was top Bandit with a vintage display, very nearly getting past Wells on the first lap of heat 15. The Aussie included two wins and two paid wins in his paid 16. Summers, Jakobsen and Howe all had their moments without being consistently productive, and Gappmaier tried very hard.
John Lindman struggled on his first Armadale appearance, and Jye Etheridge unfortunately picked up an injury in heat 2 which after one more ride ruled him out of the meeting. His presence later on could well have made a difference.
This was the first of two difficult calls for the referee. Heat 2, after a good start, Etheridge locked up in mid-turn round the first corner and slowed almost to walking pace. Therefore with Pickering coming much more quickly out of the corner, though still close to the inside line, he could not avoid running into Etheridge. Referee’s decision – correct.
In heat 4, the Bandits had gated in front but Thomas Jorgensen immediately tried to sort that out. He swept round Gappmaier on the third corner, then cut back under Jakobsen coming down the straight. He was almost a full length ahead going into the first bend of the next lap – but just clipped Jakobsen’s front wheel and brought him down. Referee’s decision – correct.
Overall an enjoyable night, riders getting round without difficulty, main event concluded in about 100 minutes. A good night at the speedway.
Team Manager: Alex Harkess
|1. Ricky Wells||3||3||3||3||3||15||0|
|2. Joel Andersson||0||1||1*||1||3||1|
|3. Mark Riss||3||1||3||2*||1||10||1|
|4. Max Ruml||1||0||0||1||0|
|5. Thomas Jorgensen||XD||3||1||2*||6||1|
|6. Matt Williamson||3||1||0||1*||5||1|
|7. Josh Pickering||2*||2||2||3||2||11||1|
Team Manager: Scott Courtney
|1. Aaron Summers||2||3||3||1||0||9||0|
|2. Kevin Doolan||1*||2*||3||2*||3||2||13||3|
|3. John Lindman||0||0||0||0||0|
|4. David Howe||2||2||2||0||6||0|
|5. Nikolaj Busk-Jakobsen||3||2||2||0||7||0|
|6. Jye Etheridge||FD||0||0||0|
|7. Dany Gappmaier||1||1||0||0||1*||1||4||1|
A big effort is required if the Staggs Bar Monarchs are to bounce back from last weekends double defeat to Glasgow with an outside chance of progression to the semi finals of the Championship Shield still a possibility.
For that to happen the Monarchs will more than likely need to take maximum points from there remaining matches starting with the visit of the Berwick Bandits to Armadale this week.
The Bandits have had an up and down start to the season with a hard fought home victory against the Tigers being followed up by a shock home defeat to Newcastle but like the Monarchs they still have their eyes set on qualification and victory at the Dale could go a long way towards that.
The Bandits have a mix of experience and youth in a solid looking line-up and there does not appear to be any weak links especially around Armadale where they have a wealth of experience.
This experience starts at number 1 where Aaron Summers has made the move after spending the last few years with Glasgow. This is a big year for ‘Spud’ as he looks to show he is still a Championship number 1 after a couple of years in the shadows of the likes of Richie Worrall and Richard Lawson at Ashfield and as a former league wining Monarch he certainly knows the quickest way around the Dale.
Further experience comes in the form of Kevin Doolan at number 2. Doolan is one of the most popular men in British Speedway having successfully hosted his testimonial last year and is still a classy performer. A self confessed lover of the Armadale track sitting in a second string position Doolan could well be a trump card for the Bandits.
On the exact opposite of the experience scale is number 3 John Lidman. Like our own Joel Andersson, Lidman is a Swedish import to the Championship with no prior UK experience. Lidman is also finding the going a little tough so far but has shown flashes that there is undoubted talent and ability there not least as he looked set to win his first race at Ashfield the other week before coming off. Lidman will be given time to settle though and the Bandits do have a strong pedigree in bringing riders over from Sweden before.
David Howe makes up the engine room of the team having returned from retirement successfully last year. Another very popular rider around the country it is great to see him back and enjoying his speedway as much as ever before. Howe is another noted Armadale performer having tasted British under 21 glory all the way back in 2000 round our circuit. Howe also appears to be on an artificially low average having spent last year at a heatleader position and a strong season would go a long way to solidifying the line-up.
The star man for the Bandits so far this season has been Danish sensation Nikolaj Busk-Jakobsen. The former world under 21 finalist was seen as somewhat of a coup when he joined the Bandits mid season last year before crashing out in his first meeting. The former Rye House man is making up for lost time so far this year with a string of impressive performances and with a 10 point score in his one and only Armadale appearance our heat leaders will have their hands full with Busk Jakobsen.
Alongside a strength in depth team comes a strong pair of reserves for the Bandits although it could say neither would class Armadale as their favourite place to race. In saying that former Monarch Jye Etheridge rides in at 6 and as always he will head to the Dale with a point to prove after his ill feted spell with the Monarchs back in 2016. The young Aussie has put that behind him now and appears to have made a home for himself with at Berwick where the wider sweeping turns appear to suite his style.
Joining Jye at reserve is Austrian racer Dany Gappmaier. Gappmaier is now in his 3rd year with the Bandits Gappmaier is somewhat of a cult hero in the Borders and can be nigh on unbeatable round his home shale. That form has not always translated away from Shielfield particularly on the tight confines of the Dale although he does have a paid 10 score on his resume in the past if he repeats that performance tonight then the Monarchs could well be in trouble.
Speaking of the Staggs Bar Monarchs there are a couple of changes to the line-up this week as we look to make amends for those defeats to the Tigers last weekend.
Firstly we welcome Thomas Jorgensen in as a guest replacement for Erik who rides in Croatia this weekend in a European Championship qualifier. Unfortunately there was no way to get Erik from the Dale on Friday to Gorican on Saturday so guest replacement rules kicked in. Further to that there is a change in the riding order as we switch Max and Joel about. Max has proved himself adapt at being able to hold his own so far this year and it is hoped that the move will kick-start Joel’s season in what has been a baptism of fire for our new Swede so far.
So a tough looking fixture lies ahead in what is a must win match for Staggs Bar Monarchs if we are to qualify for the semi finals.
Will tonight be the first step on us getting there? As always there is only one place to be to find out and that is the Dale.
See you there!!!
Friday 27th April 2018, 9:00pm
The Staggs Bar Monarchs were victorious 51-39 against the Berwick Bandits tonight.
Wednesday 25th April 2018, 5:00pm
The Staggs Bar Monarchs are hanging on by their fingernails to the hope of gaining a qualifying place for the Championship Shield semi-finals – and it is clearly essential that we win on Friday. It will help if we can prevent the Bandits getting a point.