Team Manager: Alex Harkess
|1. Sam Masters||1||2||2||3||2*||10||1|
|2. William Lawson||0||1*||2||1*||4||2|
|3. Kye Thomson||3||3||1||3||10||0|
|4. Josh Pickering||2*||1||3||3||3||12||1|
|5. Richie Worrall||R||3||3||FD||6||0|
|6. Luke Crang||0||0||0||0||0|
|7. Nathan Greaves||2||1||1||0||1||5||0|
Team Manager: Garry May
|1. Jason Crump||3||2||2||F||0||7||0|
|2. Dillon Ruml||2*||0||3||1*||6||2|
|3. Zach Cook||1||0||1*||2||1|
|4. Zane Keleher||0||2||FD||2||1||5||0|
|5. Bjarne Pedersen||3||3||2||8||0|
|6. Leon Flint||3||2*||1||3||2||2||F||13||1|
|7. Jason Edwards||1||0||FD||1||0|
The What the Fork Monarchs squeezed home by 47-42 tonight against Plymouth, who had led all the way from heat 1 and unluckily lost Bjarne Pedersen in a heat 13 crash. Monarchs took the lead in heat 14 and finished with a 5-1 from Sam Masters and Josh Pickering to put a bit of a gloss on the scoreline.
Monarchs' team boss Alex Harkess said "Plymouth made a tremendous match of it. Some of our team were below par, we had some bad luck as well and I hope the riders involved in the heat 13 crash will be OK.
"I felt the referee got the decision to exclude Richie Worrall wrong but I would not criticise him too much as it was a very tough call."
Bike problems in the early stages for Sam Masters and Richie Worrall certainly put Monarchs on the back foot. Crump and surprise packet Dillon Ruml took a 5-1 from the opening race and Ruml even had the temerity to re-pass Masters after the home captain had got into second place.
Leon Flint of course was an exceptional guest for the Gladiators and he won heat 2 in spite of strong pressure from Nathan Greaves, and although in one of the all-Australian heats Monarchs' Pickering and Thomson took a 5-1 from Cook and Keleher, this was quickly repaid when Worrall pulled out of heat 4 gifting a 5-1 to Pedersen and Flint.
Monarchs just could not regain that lost ground. They took 4-2s in heats 5, 7 and 9 but lost one in heat 8, won by Dillon Ruml, and when home stalwart Kye Thomson won heat 12, Monarchs still trailed by two points. It was anyone's match.
Sam Masters had simply not been able to make his usual starts but a switch of machinery saw him jet away from gate 1 in front of Pedersen. Crump came down after getting in an awkward position on the first turn but cleared the track quickly, and Worrall chased Pedersen. Going in to the third turn of lap two, Masters was making sure he covered the inside, Pedersen moved out a fraction and slowed to avoid Masters' back wheel, while Worrall came in hard and found the Dane in his path, resulting in a heavy tumble for Worrall and Pedersen.
Worrall was the man excluded, a tough call as Alex Harkess later said. Pedersen was unable to ride in the rerun in which Masters defeated Flint to put Monarchs just a point behind.
Heat 14 was the race of the night, a great effort by the lively Zane Keleher who led for a couple of laps before Pickering swept past on the outside. Meanwhile not for the first time Greaves was chasing Flint and finally got past him, with Leon tumbling going in to the last lap. In his seventh ride he may well have been tiring but it was an important point and gave Monarchs the lead for the first time.
With Pedersen unavailable for the decider Gladiators fielded Crump and Keleher and it was Jason who made the start from the inside, but Pickering rounded him and Masters slipped through on the inside, and thereafter made no mistake.
Plymouth got a richly-deserved point and probably feel they deserved more, though from Monarchs point of view they were indebted to the Pickering-Thomson pair, both excellent, and were happy that Sam Masters eventually overcame his machinery problems. The tail-enders all gave their all but are finding it hard to come up with the points the team need, especially when one of the top four hits problems.
One of the evening's highlights was a great interview Jason Crump gave from the tower, praising the young Aussies in the match and remembering his Powderhall battles with Les Collins, Kenny McKinna, Brett Saunders and Michael Coles.
Like an oasis amidst a desert of postponements, Edinburgh's first ever visit to Kent Kings' Central Park Stadium on Tuesday yielded another valuable point in their quest for a play-off slot. Unfortunately, though, the Monarchs' joy was tempered slightly by below-par performances on the night by certain key riders and the feeling that it was more a case of two points dropped than the solitary bonus one gained.
The rain-related call-offs of both last weekend's fixtures, Poole at Armadale and away to Leicester, brought sharply into focus the importance of finding some much-needed track action, particularly in light of Wednesday's Knockout Cup-tie with Birmingham at Perry Barr also falling victim to the ruling that states league matches must take priority over other competitions.
Not for the first time this term we left it late to mount the charge that ultimately ensured we didn't leave Sittingbourne empty-handed. Indeed, our record in the latter stages of matches has been uncanny all season. Of 15 fixtures fulfilled to a conclusion, the Monarchs have recorded a final heat advantage in all but three of them. And of the 12, nine have ended in a 5-1. In fact, the first and only time those Heat 15 honours have gone against us was last week's 50-40 defeat at Plymouth.
Of course, it would be folly to expect things to always work out thus, even if, in view of such startling statistics, it's almost impossible not to. Against the Kings though, only Sam and Kye got anywhere near double figure with the skipper top scoring on 16 points from his six rides.
A point's a point though, and in spite of one or two missed opportunities over the past couple of weeks, the team look forward to Friday's visit from the Plymouth Gladiators from a position just three points behind Glasgow at the top of the Championship table. The Tigers do have a meeting in hand over their tartan rivals, but Edinburgh remain handily placed for a concerted assault on the end of season honours. Having now completed more fixtures than any other team in the division, however, no one of a blue and gold persuasion will be in any doubt how tough the coming period will be.
Creeping up level on points with the Monarchs are Poole. The Pirates have a potentially decisive three meetings in hand over their Scottish rivals, including their rearranged visit to Armadale, and look determined to be heavily involved in what's shaping up to be a thrilling climax to this most eventful post-lockdown campaign.
Fellow south-coasters Plymouth come to Armadale at the weekend sitting third from bottom on 11 points from the same number of meetings. Yet, despite all four of the Gladiators' away fixtures to date ending in defeat, Edinburgh's recent reversal at St. Boniface Arena would suggest a test much tougher on cinder than on paper. Although 34 of their points in the 50-40 victory fell to three riders, Bjarne Pedersen, Alfie Bowtell and Zane Keleher, there's undeniable talent elsewhere in a set-up apparently enjoying some richer form of late incongruously at odds with their lowly league standings.
Pre-season, much of the Championship chatter centred around Plymouth's bodacious capture of celebrated Dane Bjarne Pedersen and three times World Champion Jason Crump. To date it has only been the former who has hit those anticipated heights but perhaps it's just a matter of time before Crumpy comes good as well. Certainly, at 43 and 46 years of age respectively, no one can accuse the Gladiators of lacking riders of experience.
The multitude of career honours accumulated by the pair are way too extensive to list here, suffice to say the inclusion of such speedway royalty in a side who finished bottom of the National League as recently as 2019 has been a real shot in the arm for the sport's middle tier.
The notion of a sizeable gap in quality between the best and the rest of an outfit boasting such 'A' list heat-leaders can easily be argued against with the briefest of glimpses over their roster of "lower rankers".
In those vitally important berths 3 and 4, Plymouth are served formidably by two riders relatively new to British speedway - the Z-force twins, Aussies Zane Keleher and Zach Cook. Both have very recent experience of facing the Monarchs and would hope to see that transform into decent displays come Friday.
Also making his UK speedway bow this term is Californian Dillon Ruml, younger brother of former Monarch, Max. Of course, Dillon's switch from the expansive circuits in the States to Britain's smallest track can't have been easy to master although, compared to the Plymouth Coliseum's 213 metres, perhaps the extra 47 metres of Armadale shale will make him feel slightly more at home this coming weekend.
Reserves have never played a more crucial role in the oval game than they do today, and in Alfie Bowtell and Jason Edwards, Plymouth have two exciting youngsters adept at delivering valuable points hauls for team boss Mattie Bates.
With Willie Lawson hoping to return after missing out at Kent, both teams be at full strength. Now we just need a dry night and it's game on!
With restrictions easing tickets are available and cash can be paid at the gate for those wishing to attend, for those unable to make it then as always the meeting will be live streamed with ccess available to purchase from the EM:TV link.
Friday 13th August 2021, 10:30am
First time attending or not attended in a while? Find out all you need to know here!
Thursday 12th August 2021, 3:00pm
In a bonus fixture coming up this Saturday from 2:30pm, the Club is pleased to present Round 4 of the 2021 British Youth Championship.
Thursday 12th August 2021, 11:20am
Matchday magazines from Friday's home fixture against Plymouth plus Saturday's British Youth Championship are available to order now!