Team Manager: Alex Harkess
|1. Sam Masters||3||3||2||2||1*||3||14||1|
|2. William Lawson||1||1*||1||0||3||1|
|3. Richie Worrall - Rider Replacement||0||0|
|4. Kye Thomson||0||2||1*||2||3||8||1|
|5. Josh Pickering||2||FD||2||FD||2||2*||8||1|
|6. Luke Crang||1||2||2||5||0|
|7. Nathan Greaves||3||1*||1*||0||1*||0||6||3|
Team Manager: Chris Hunt
|1. Troy Batchelor||2||3||3||0||8||0|
|2. Ben Morley||0||0||3||XO||3||0|
|3. Paul Starke||1*||F||1||3||5||1|
|4. Cameron Heeps||2||3||3||1*||1||10||1|
|5. Scott Nicholls||3||3||3||3||FD||12||0|
|6. Ryan Terry-Daley||0||0||0||0||0|
|7. Dan Gilkes||2||0||2*||0||2||6||1|
The What the Fork Monarchs snatched a somewhat unexpected 44-44 draw against Kent Kings tonight, taking a last heat 5-1 over the previously unbeatable Scott Nicholls who landed in the air fence trying a passing move on Josh Pickering.
Monarchs' team boss Alex Harkess said "We've managed to get a draw but I have to say it felt like a defeat. We were very disappointing. We weren't getting out of the starts and were up against it all night. Congratulations to Kent on a very good performance."
It had all started quite promisingly for the home side with two 4-2s. Sam Masters beat Batchelor in heat 1 with Lawson comfortably third, and Nathan Greaves pulled off an excellent fourth corner pass on Dan Gilkes in heat 2. In this one Luke Crang took his first point for Monarchs, which will take some pressure off him.
Masters took the first rider replacement ride for Richie Worrall in heat 3 and won it, but the chance of an advantage was lost as Kye Thomson touched the tapes and could make no headway from 15 metres. This heat also saw the signs that Cameron Heeps was in for a good night, passing and repassing with Masters on the opening couple of laps.
So Monarchs provided the first three race winners. From that point, believe it or not, Kent had the next TEN. It's a long time since any team did that at Armadale.
It did look like Pickering might round Nicholls on the opening bends of heat 4 but Scott moved Josh over and prevented the move. Batchelor took heat 5 before Nicholls showed his true class to pass the faster gating Masters in heat 6. The former British Champion truly is World Class at Armadale – he came in so fast to the pits turn on lap two, so close to his opponent's back wheel, but turned so smoothly and sweetly that he swept to the front. A joy to watch.
Kings were on a 5-1 in the early stages of heat 7, but Pickering split them by passing Starke, who then lifted and came off going over the start line. His bike went off the track so there was no need for a stoppage. However later in the race Pickering spun off on the fourth turn, and most felt there was again no need for a stoppage with Crang coming inside the fallen rider.
Pickering thus had no chance to remount and the race was awarded as a 3-2, the first of two such heat results.
This left Monarchs three ahead and probably most felt that Lawson and Greaves would extend the lead in heat 8 against Morley and Gilkes, based on what we had seen so far. Far from it! It was the visitors who cleared off for as easy a 5-1 as you are ever likely to see. That was Kings one point ahead, and that heat was something of a match-turner.
Heeps just kept on getting better and in heat 10 he beat Masters with Starke well clear of Lawson for the point. Pickering still hadn't won a heat but he might have had cause for grievance in heat 11 when he was taken out on the first corner by Batchelor, and came off. This was a harder move then Nicholls in heat 4 but Pickering was given no second chance. As Morley had failed to leave the tapes he was also out as Luke Crang had his second two pointer in a two man rerun.
Monarchs were now 4 down and looking for somewhere to regain the ground. It might have been heat 12 but after Thomson and Greaves had gated, Starke came sailing past them down the back straight to take the kind of vital win he specialises in.
On to heat 13 and Nicholls again flew to the front to win easily. Batchelor had the least productive gate 1 and this time didn't score, leaving the gap at 4 points.
After 10 successive race wins to Kent, Kye Thomson finally got to the front in heat 14, but Heeps and Gilkes comfortably shared it with Greaves well back.
So Monarchs needed a 5-1 for the draw, which seemed most unlikely against Nicholls. However this time Masters and Pickering manoeuvred their way to the front. By now the outside ribbon of grip had narrowed and Nicholls came down attempting to squeeze round the outside. The heat was awarded.
All the riders were out on parade, Monarchs on their bikes getting a good reception for at least finishing strongly, and Kent on their feet getting noisily cheered by both their own fans and many of the home support. They certainly deserved it.
Another Friday, another night of unwavering thrills, spills and entertainment, as Nigel Pearson and Kelvin Tatum would say, 'from the top drawer'.
Once more, as now seems customary where the Monarchs are concerned, it was a late, late call to determine who would come out on top from this finely balanced encounter with Plymouth. And once again it took a storming Heat 15 to settle the issue in the home team's favour.
The visiting Gladiators made a complete mockery of their lowly position in the Championship with a bold display that deserved far better than the solitary bonus point they headed back to Devon with. Indeed, had big hitters, Jason Crump and Bjarne Pedersen, maintained their lightning start to the meeting all the way through, Edinburgh might well have been on the end of their second home defeat of the season.
Plymouth's opening heat 5-1 certainly set the tone for an extremely testing evening for Sam and the boys. Thankfully though, they managed the points gap well enough, never allowing it to creep beyond six points. That deficit had shrunk to just two points as the riders lined up for the third last heat, and with both Crump and Pedersen proceeding to come a cropper, it really was unlucky 13 for the Gladiators as Sam edged out stand-in Leon Flint in a two-man rerun.
Flint's misfortune extended into the penultimate heat as a productive night for the young guest rider was spoiled somewhat when he became the latest Gladiator to suffer a fall. With Zane Keleher only managing to split the Edinburgh twosome, Josh and Nathan's 4-2 fired the Monarchs into the lead for the first time in the meeting, albeit by a single point.
Edinburgh's final heat record has been magnificent this season though, and once again they did it in fine style through the nominated pairing of Pickering and Masters.
With just four points separating table-topping Glasgow and sixth-placed Leicester, things couldn't be tighter in the race for Championship honours. Just a point behind the Tigers but with a meeting more raced, Edinburgh remain handily placed ahead of a busy weekend for both teams that should go a long way in creating a clearer climactic picture. Perhaps though, Poole are the team to look out for as they sit level on points with ourselves but with a whopping three meetings in hand. Exciting days in store for all concerned!
This weekend Glasgow have a potentially hazardous double-header with big cat cousins Leicester Lions while life at Armadale gets no easier as we Monarchs host the Kings of Kent in what has the makings of a real royal rumble. Something's got to give so the question is, who'll blink first?
Fresh from Tuesday's convincing victory over Berwick at Central Park, the Kings travel north full of new-found confidence. However, their concerning position at the foot of the table would suggest that confidence has been a commodity in short supply around Sittingbourne for a while. Indeed, Kent have yet to taste victory on the road in 2021, so the Monarchs will have to show extra vigilance to ensure it stays that way.
Formed in 2013, the Kings race on a circuit situated, like Armadale, inside a greyhound racetrack. Stepping up from the National League in 2019 (they still run a third-tier development team, the Kent Royals), major honours have eluded them thus far although the current line-up looks way more capable of delivering a better return than has been the case until now.
With veteran Paul Hurry recently announcing his retirement, Kings' management moved quickly and, one would have to say, impressively to bring in much-admired Aussie Troy Batchelor. The former Swindon Robin, who also rides for Sheffield in the Premiership, has the type of quality and experience that might just see Kent start to rise up the league.
Shading Batchelor in the honours stakes is Ipswich-born TV pundit Scott Nicholls. Crowned British Champion seven times between 2002 and 2012, Scotty has also ridden 82 GPs, nine of which have resulted in him reaching the final.
One visiting rider who requires no introduction to Edinburgh fans is class of 2019 Monarch, Cameron Heeps. The Aussie has struggled to find form this term, but he knows the Armadale track like the back of his hand and will no doubt be eager to rediscover some former glories against his old team.
Completing the Kings' heat-leading triumvirate with Batchelor and Nicholls will be former Glasgow Tiger, Paul Starke. A serial thorn in Edinburgh flesh, he will take to the challenge of unseating his one-time Scottish rivals with relish.
Completing the main body of the Kent line-up is former Rye House and Lakeside stalwart, Ben Morley who is currently enjoying his second spell at Central Park Stadium. And at reserve will be 19-year-old Rising Star, Dan Gilkes and, guesting for Jake Mulford who is away on FIM duty, former Newcastle Gem Ryan Terry-Daley who also featured at Armadale for Newcastle Diamonds last month.
One change for the Monarchs sees Richie miss out still feeling the effects of that heavy spill last Friday, with 8 Championship teams in action guest riders were thin on the ground so rider replacement operates with each of the Monarch entitled to an extra ride. To facilitate this a small shuffling of riding order has been made also with Josh moving to 5 and Kye to 4 meaning that r/r operates from the number 3 spot in the team.
Edinburgh last faced Kent as recently as August 10th when Sam and Kye's final heat 5-1 rescued a bonus point that seemed at one stage to have slipped beyond their grasp. Despite having home advantage this time round, I can't see Friday's contest presenting any less of a challenge for the mighty Monarchs.
Thursday 19th August 2021, 11:34am
Order your copy of the What The Fork Monarchs v Kent Kings Matchday Magazine now - a perfect accompaniment to your EMTV:Live experience!
Wednesday 18th August 2021, 5:45pm
Kent Kings come to Armadale this Friday in a Championship fixture, the first time we've ever hosted the Kings who have moved into our league this season. Star Kings are Scott Nicholls (perhaps the best visiting rider over the last few seasons) plus former GP rider Troy Batchelor, Paul Starke and popular ex-Monarch Cameron Heeps.