Team Manager: Simon Stead
|1. Charles Wright||3||1*||1*||3||2*||10||3|
|2. James Shanes||0||2||0||2||4||0|
|3. Kasper Andersen||2||1*||2*||1||6||2|
|4. Todd Kurtz||1*||2||3||1||7||1|
|5. Kyle Howarth||3||3||2||2*||3||13||1|
|6. Connor Mountain||3||0||0||XD||3||0|
|7. Broc Nicol||1||R||1||0||2||0|
Team Manager: John Campbell
|1. Ricky Wells||2||3||3||1||0||9||0|
|2. Victor Palovaara||1*||0||3||1||5||1|
|3. Josh Pickering||3||2||0||3||8||0|
|4. Richie Worrall||0||1*||3||3||1||8||1|
|5. Erik Riss||2||3||1||0||6||0|
|6. William Lawson||R||0||0||0||0|
|7. Joel Andersson||2||1*||2*||2*||2*||9||4|
Hoping for a win, fearing at some points in the evening it could be a loss, the Staggs Bar Monarchs finally settled for a valuable draw against Sheffield tonight in a match delayed for more than an hour by a heavy pre-meeting shower.
Team boss John Campbell said "I don't know what to think – two points takes us into a Playoff position which is good. If no-one else gets any away points we are there!
"We didn't have a standout rider who could finish the job for us. Ricky was confident gate two was the one to win off in the final heat but it didn't happen. But there were certainly points when I felt we were going to lose. Because they had taken the dirt off to ensure the meeting went ahead gating was absolutely critical."
Heroic reserve Joel Andersson was knocked off in heat 14 in a race which was awarded 5-1 to us. Campbell said "He appears to be OK but he will be sore because he was just wiped out by Connor Mountain. He'll need to learn that there has to be a space before you can try and go through it."
Of the delay prior to the late start Campbell commented "I said all along it should be on. Graham Trollop did a lot of grading with the big grader and the track looked perfect to be honest.
"The meeting should probably have gone ahead without any work being done to it at all. It would have been sloppy but that would have been swept aside.
"But we've moved on from days of riders getting dirty as they used to. Nowadays they always have to think about riding tomorrow.
"Now it's a matter of winning by at least 8 at home to Glasgow tomorrow and anything we get at Glasgow is a bonus."
The meeting was nip and tuck all the way with Sheffield taking the lead in heat 2 after William Lawson had looked impressive only to stop. Five shared races followed but Monarchs took a 5-1 through Palovaara and Andersson in heat 8 to go ahead.
Frustratingly we took three 5-1s over the closing stages and lost one back immediately in the following heat. Ricky Wells was the only Monarch to beat Howarth in heat 11, and we followed that with a 5-1 from Pickering and Andersson to go 4 ahead again.
Heat 13 was a 1-5 loss, heat 14 a 5-1 win through Worrall and Andersson again (you can see how crucial he was, in our three 5-1s) but heat 15 went against us to level it up at the last gasp. Championship Pairs winners Wright and Howarth saved the day for Sheffield with fine performances.
After the long delay the meeting was completed in excellent time.
With just over 3 weeks to go until the Playoff cut off the Staggs Bar Monarchs start the biggest weekend of their season so far with a trip to Sheffield on Thursday evening.
With matches running out and the Monarchs currently sitting just outside the playoff positions it is getting near crunch time and with away points still required it can realistically be said that the trip to Yorkshire must result in points for the Armadale men or it will leave an uphill struggle if they are to finish in the top 4 once again.
With away matches at playoff chasing Glasgow and Workington remaining after this and Sheffield's current position at the foot of the table having not won a match since the beginning of July many are tipping the Monarchs to be victorious.
There are reservations about tagging the Blue and Gold as favourites though as on paper Sheffield have a strong looking septet and it is a mystery to many how they find themselves in their current predicament.
Led by a strong looking heat leader duo of Charles Wright and Kyle Howarth and well backed by Todd Kurtz who normally rides the Owlerton circuit like a number 1 as well and there should be a good platform to build on. Anyone in attendance at Armadale last week can see the obvious talent and skill of Kasper Andersen and James Shanes who both were excellent and with Connor Mountain introduced at reserve where he will partner Broc Nicol who will be looking for the confidence boost a reserve spell can bring then there is no obvious weak spots in the line-up.
That being said the Tigers are on a horrific run particularly at home where the last 4 fixtures have all resulted in losses by 14 points or more and the Monarchs will need to hope this is playing on their minds going into the fixture also although as this is the last home league fixture of the season Simon Stead's men will be looking to go out on a high.
For the Monarchs it is a case of looking to carry on the home form we have shown recently with comfortable victories the norm. We could not take anything from our last away match at Berwick and there are a few who will need to up their game away from Armadale to ensure a result this evening.
Ricky Wells is a former Sheffield 1 and certainly knows the quickest way around the sweeping bends but improvement on previous showings will be required by Erik and Richie to back our number 1 up. Both are in fantastic form though and should take that confidence into the meeting rather than any trepidation on previous results. As always we will look for the back-up from Victor and Josh who both appear suited to Owlerton if in very different ways. Victor with his sharp gating and smooth style and Josh with his never say die attitude sweeping round the boards. Key for the Monarchs chances could be at reserve where we at last need Joel and William to match their home counterparts.
So a crucial fixture lies ahead and one that if the Monarchs can take a victory in it would truly boost our playoff chances being as it would put us ahead of all our rivals for the remaining playoff spots on away points gained and give us a great platform to build on ahead of the huge derby matches this weekend.
Can the boys do it? Keep an eye on the Monarchs website to find out.