Team Manager: Alex Harkess
|1. Ricky Wells||3||3||3||1*||2||12||1|
|2. Joel Andersson||0||1||3||1||5||0|
|3. Mark Riss||3||1||3||3||10||0|
|4. Max Ruml||0||0||0||0||0|
|5. Erik Riss||2||3||3||2||1*||11||1|
|6. Coty Garcia||1*||2*||0||0||3||2|
|7. Josh Pickering||2||0||1||1||1||5||0|
Team Manager: Cameron Brown
|1. Chris Harris||1*||3||2||0||FD||6||1|
|2. Lewis Kerr||2||2*||2||1*||7||2|
|3. Claus Vissing||1*||1||2||2||6||1|
|4. Paul Starke||2||0||0||3||5||0|
|5. Richie Worrall||3||2||2||3||3||13||0|
|6. Jack Thomas||0||0||1*||1||1|
|7. James Sarjeant||3||1||0||0||2*||6||1|
The Staggs Bar Monarchs took a 2-point advantage from the first leg of the Knockout Cup tie against Glasgow tonight, in a thrilling meeting which swung one way then the other, and back again. At heat 5 Monarchs were six points down, and at heat 12 they were six points up. At that point it seemed they could establish a significant lead but Glasgow got the better of the final three races.
Alex Harkess said "We had done so well to achieve a 12-point turnaround between heat 5 and heat 12, that I am very disappointed we could not press home our advantage over the last three heats. I felt we should have got a 10-point advantage. Richie Worrall did very well but we should have pegged him back in heats 13 and 15, and we seem to have a problem in heat 14 every week."
There was some first class racing as all the riders put everything into their efforts. After three shared races Glasgow struck as Worrall beat Erik Riss in heat 4, followed by a 5-1 from Harris and Kerr against Mark Riss. It looked ominous but what a response from the Monarchs.
This produced a tremendous response from Monarchs who took over the middle portion of the match. Ricky Wells brilliantly passed Richie Worrall to win heat 6 with Joel Andersson third, and then new boy Coty Garcia backed captain Erik Riss to a 5-1 over the strong looking Vissing Starke pairing. Level!
A powerful first corner by Joel Andersson brought him a big win in heat 8 with Josh Pickering third and Monarchs were ahead. Mark Riss took his second victory in heat 9 but Jack Thomas scored an important point against Max Ruml who had a disappointing night.
Monarchs edged further ahead through Wells and Andersson in heat 10, Erik Riss won heat 11 and heat 12 was a great race in which Claus Vissing went between the two Monarchs only for Mark Riss to come back with a great pass.
At this point Edinburgh had 8 race wins to Glasgow's 3, and had Wells and Erik Riss in heats 13 and 15 with only one point lost between them. A good lead for Sunday was on the cards.
But Glasgow had other ideas with Richie Worrall again a very influential figure as he always has been at Armadale. Tigers went ahead in heat 13 from the gate, and it took everything the Monarchs' top two could manage to push Harris back to last place.
Heat 14 has been a problem all season and the pairing of Pickering and Garcia had no answer as Starke and Sarjeant raced to a 5-1. So just two points in it going in to the last race.
Harris was excluded after falling on the first turn, but Worrall again had the determination to force his way ahead. Ricky Wells came from a long way back using the inside line but Worrall blocked a possible passing move on the last corner, to leave Tigers happier with the final score.
I would say no as we welcome the Glasgow Tigers east in the first leg of our Knockout Cup encounter!
Glasgow will of course be buoyed by their victory at Armadale earlier in the season but a few things have changed in the Monarchs set up since then and our boys will most definitely be 'up for the cup'.
One noticeable change since the Tigers last came a calling is at reserve we welcome debutant Coty Garcia to the fold this evening, Garcia replacing Matt Williamson who has stepped down from the team. Garcia has been around a few of the northern clubs with spells at Glasgow, Berwick and Redcar but perhaps from a Monarchs point of view his most noticeable performance came as guest in both legs of a triumphant League Cup final team and I'm sure all of a Monarchs persuasion will be hoping that is a harbinger of things to come this weekend.
Beyond that the Monarchs welcome back number 1 Ricky Wells after he missed out on our trip to Lakeside last week due to Grand Prix qualifying commitments. Unfortunately Ricky could not progress through what on paper looked the toughest of the semi finals and we are delighted to have him back tonight.
The rest of the line-up is as per normal with top form needed throughout. Joel and Max looking to build consistency and match their better performances while forgetting some of the poorer ones and Mark Riss looking to continue his strong home form which has seen him average over 7 at the Dale so far this year.
The battles at heat leader will of course be fierce with Ricky and Erik needing to be at their best also but for me the key man in Friday night's encounter may well be reserve Josh Pickering. If Josh can subdue the Glasgow pair and take a few scalps from the top 5 then this would go along way to securing a victory and as much of a lead as possible before we head to Ashfield on Sunday.
For the Tigers it is back to full strength after a few matches missing various riders. Paul Starke returns after an accumulation of knocks led to a much needed rest being required and this could prove key for the Tigers as with his position at 5th in the averages he is almost irreplaceable. Also returning after missing last weeks home win against Redcar is Chris Harris, Harris was another who was unsuccessful in his attempts to make the GP Challenge being beaten by former Monarch Kevin Wolbert in a run off for a spot.
It has been an up and down few weeks for the Tigers with the shocking mauling at home to Workington being followed up by a little bit of a disappointing away performance at Redcar. This was rectified with a strong home win over the same opposition last Sunday and away manager Cami Brown will hope this is more a sign of what is to come from his men who have perhaps been a little underserved by Harris and fellow heatleader Richie Worrall so far this year being as looking at their averages so far both have dropped with Claus Vissing and Lewi Kerr taking on the mantle as the top points scorers. We of course know how dangerous both of these guys are at the Dale though and it would be foolish to rule them out in any heat tonight.
So a top clash is in store, the weather is playing ball, both teams are at full strength and unlike in the League Cup no consolation points come into play so it's all or nothing over the two legs starting at Armadale as both look to progress to face Berwick in the next round.
Can the Monarchs build a lead to defend on Sunday, there is only one place to be to see and that is Armadale.
See you there!
Friday 25th May 2018, 8:55pm
The Staggs Bar Monarchs will defend an 2 point lead at Ashfield on Sunday after a tight 46-44 victory at Armadale tonight.
Thursday 24th May 2018, 10:09am
The Staggs Bar Monarchs face a very difficult Knockout Cup tie this weekend, racing arch-rivals Glasgow at Armadale on Friday and at Ashfield on Sunday. New signing Coty Garcia will take his place in the Monarchs' lineup.