Team Manager: Alex Harkess
|1. Ricky Wells||3||3||3||0||1*||10||1|
|2. Victor Palovaara||0||2*||2||1||5||1|
|3. Josh Pickering||3||2||2||3||10||0|
|4. Joel Andersson||2*||0||0||3||5||1|
|5. Cameron Heeps||3||2||3||3||2||13||0|
|6. William Lawson||2||1*||0||2*||1||6||2|
|7. Connor Coles||1*||1||1*||3||2|
Team Manager: George English
|1. Steve Worrall||2||3||3||1*||1*||3||13||2|
|2. Thomas Jorgensen R/R||0||0|
|3. Coty Garcia||1*||0||0||0||0||1||1|
|4. Matthew Wethers||1||1||3||2||0||0||7||0|
|5. Ulrich Ostergaard||2||0||1||2||5||0|
|6. Max Clegg||3||1||3||2||1||2||12||0|
|7. Danny Phillips||0||FD||0||0||0|
The Staggs Bar Monarchs head down to Newcastle on Sunday with a 14-point advantage (52-38) after an absorbing first leg of the Knockout Cup semi-final at Armadale.
Monarchs' captain Ricky Wells reflected on the match afterwards, saying "It was a good overall team performance. Heepsie was on it, making some great overtakes.
"We are a lot weaker without Josh Pickering especially at home. Whatever his average is he is much better than that. It's good to have him back."
It was the kind of match we all want to watch – both teams giving their all, fortunes ebbing and flowing, some surprise results and some great overtaking. As usual messers Heeps and Pickering were to the fore in the latter category.
When Ricky Wells and Victor Palovaara jumped out of the start in heat 1 it looked like a strong start for Monarchs, but Victor lost it on the second bend in a manner reminiscent of the first heat in last year's cup semi!
So it wasn't until heat 3 that Monarchs went ahead, Josh Pickering on his return after six weeks battling through inside Matthew Wethers to join Joel Andersson for a 5-1.
Cameron Heeps won heat 4 and Connor Coles got the benefit of the doubt after he came down during a tussle for the point with Danny Phillips. So that was the lead up to six but Newcastle knocked two off in the next heat, in which Pickering had to work hard to pass Matthew Wethers but didn't have enough time left to catch Steve Worrall.
A 5-1 in heat 6 raised home hopes, Wells and Palovaara heading Clegg with Ostergaard well back. This was one of the few heats in which Clegg was ineffective.
Wethers and Worrall won the next two heats and the Diamonds again took a 4-2 in a disappointing heat 9 for the home side. Joel Andersson was nowhere as Pickering again had to fight from the back to get second from Ostergaard.
So just six points in it, extended to 8 in heat 11 when Wethers cut past Palovaara to prevent a maximum advantage.
Heat 11 was an outstanding ride by Cameron Heeps who battled round the outside of first Steve Worrall and then Max Clegg for a great win.
William Lawson's gating has been holding him back but he suddenly shot out the gate in heat 12, backing Pickering to a 5-1 and holding off Max Clegg.
So it was a 12 point lead with three to go. Heeps made a great start in heat 13 but Ricky Wells, unbeaten to that point, had the worst gate (inside) and could not improve on fourth place.
Heat 14 looked ominous against Wethers and Clegg but amazingly Lawson and Andersson gated, with Joel working hard and taking the win while William kept Matthew at the back.
So a 14-point advantage – could it be extended in the final race? The answer was no as Steve Worrall gated to take his third win of the night in spite of the best efforts of Heeps and Wells.
So 52-38 it was after a thoroughly enjoyable match. All of the home side scored well with Heeps the standout with 13, plus the ride of the night to pass Worrall and Clegg. Good to see Lawson make a couple of starts and show how effective he could be. And of course Josh Pickering will never relinquish his "Entertainer" tag.
The Diamonds were indebted to a rock-solid show by Steve Worrall, some crafty stuff from Matthew Wethers and a predictably strong showing from no. 6 Max Clegg. On the other hand guest Coty Garcia had a very poor night standing in for Lasse Bjerre.
It's all to play for on Sunday.
It's all up for the cup this weekend as the Staggs Bar Monarchs face off against the Newcastle Diamonds in KO Cup semi final action starting on Friday night at Armadale.
An intriguing tie is in prospect with the Monarchs and Tynesiders having faced off in some absolute classics over the years and with both having excellent records at the others tracks both sides will feel they can progress.
It will be a much changed Newcastle side that head north from that we saw back in April when the Monarchs ran out 51-39 victors in the Championship Shield. From that team Simon Lambert has been replaced by Jacob Bukhave who in turn has been dropped to make way for Ulrich Ostergaard who makes his debut this weekend. Elsewhere both Thomas Jorgensen and Lasse Bjerre miss out through injury with r/r in place for Jorgensen allowing everyone extra rides and Berwick's Coty Garcia stepping in for Bjerre. Garcia was in fantastic form when visiting with the Bandits earlier in the season racing to a paid 14 score.
The remainder of the Diamonds septet includes some of the most powerful and experienced Armadale visitors around. Steve Worrall has the number 1 jacket and while it appears that he is not quite back to the form shown prior to his bad leg break last year he is still a formidable opponent averaging 8.69 points for the 2019 season and always capable of a big score on any night.
The main backup to Worrall may well be expected to come from renaissance man Matty Wethers. Wethers appeared to be heading to wards the twilight of his career settling into a solid second string role but this season has seen 'Stormy' roll back the years with a string of impressive performances and an 8+ point average for the season so far.
Completing a trio of league winning Monarchs in the side is Max Clegg, Clegg perhaps looking to be the major beneficiary of the Ostergaard signing as it pushes the 22 year old Yorkshireman back into a reserve slot where he looks to be one of the most powerful in the league. Completing the line-up is Danny Phillips, Phillips has struggled a little this season but did beat Willie on the Diamonds last visit so can't be discounted.
For the Monarchs it is a welcome looking return to a full line-up with Josh Pickering returning to the fold after a nigh on 6 week absence with a shoulder injury. Pickering has been a hard man to replace with his improvement in form this season not yet shown in his rolling average.
Ricky Wells also gave the Monarchs fans a scare on Monday night when pulling out of Poole's match at Kings Lynn live on BT, fortunately some physio seems to have done the trick and Ricky looked back to form with a 10 point haul at Ipswich on Thursday night.
The Monarchs will line up as expected the rest of the way with big performances needed by all. Joel and Victor have been in fine form in the last couple of weeks and a pair of double digit scores could go a long way towards building a big lead.
The key men may well come at reserve where as I say on an almost weekly basis more is required particularly from William Lawson. Max Clegg will come into the tie full of confidence and with a point to prove against the Monarchs and it will be up to Lawson as a former number 1 of both teams to nullify his points scoring whereas Connor's job will be to beat Phillips anytime they face up.
This is a tie that literally could go either way as proven by the results earlier in the season where the Monarchs won by 12 points at Armadale and fell by 10 points at Newcastle. While that would do the job this weekend it may be a little close for comfort and the Monarchs need to build up as big a lead as possible at home on Friday night.
With the second leg to come at Brough Park on Sunday a big lead would be most welcome, can the boys rack up the score required? There is only one place to be to see all the action and that is trackside.
See you there!
Monday 8th July 2019, 12:49pm
The big summer draw held by the Monarchs Fans Trust comes to its conclusion on Friday but there will be time right up to the start of the match v Newcastle to buy tickets, if you haven't already done so.
Tuesday 9th July 2019, 9:30pm
Josh Pickering has declared himself fit and will return to the Staggs Bar Monarchs' line up for the cup semi-final weekend against Newcastle on Friday and Sunday.
Wednesday 10th July 2019, 8:46pm
A great weekend of Speedway is in prospect as the Staggs Bar Monarchs and the Newcastle Diamonds lock horns on Friday and Sunday, aiming for a place in the Championship Knockout Cup final.