After a captivating Championship campaign, a final 5th place finish pairs the Monarchs with Redcar Bears in their Play Off Quarter Final. Only nine points separated ourselves from the Bears in fourth spot in the final standings which offers little in the way of a hint as to which team will win through to the semis.
Even a look back to the start of the season and that quickfire double header between the sides presents no clearer view of the possible outcome as both meetings ended in 45-45 draws. Of course, a great deal of water has flowed off the old cowshed roof since then.
By and large, changes in personnel between the two teams since their line-ups were announced back in May have been slight to middling. Of the respective septets Edinburgh have seen marginally more movement with Joe Lawlor, Willie Lawson and Nathan Greaves all moving on towards the end of the programmed season.
The exciting young talents that are Anders Rowe and Drew Kemp have arrived on the scene but, with one thing and another, neither has really had the run of meetings that might have helped settle them in more smoothly and that trend continues as both miss out on this one. R/R is in operation for Rowe and Leon Flint steps in for Kemp.
Crucially though, the big-hitting end of the team has remained intact and an "at it" quartet of Sam Masters, Richie Worrall, Joshie Pickering and Kye Thomson will be vital if progress is to be made.
For the Bears, only Jordan Stewart and, funnily enough, the aforementioned Mr. Rowe have left the Media Prima Arena over a similar period. In their places have come young Ryan Kinsley and ex- Glasgow rider Lewis Kerr who was left high and dry when Eastbourne withdrew from the Championship earlier in the year.
Ryan's had a rotten time of it lately with the well-publicised theft of his bikes and equipment and this is bound to have had a marked effect on his form. If ever a rider needed a break, it's Ryan Kinsley and he will be desperately hoping it comes against the Monarchs.
Kerr, on the other hand, has been flying of late and will most certainly be one to watch over the coming weekend. In truth though, Redcar have quality written all over them.
2019 British Riders champion, Charles Wright, is certainly a case in point. Like Kerr, the Redcar skipper has been scoring heavily of late although he did only manage five on his last visit to Armadale. Beaten on that occasion by Sam, Kye and Richie, he'll be looking to pass it off as a bad day at the office and make Edinburgh suffer accordingly.
Despite only James Sarjeant in the Bears line-up having comparable experience of Edinburgh's home circuit, Charles has only once scored double-figures there, so does that give the Monarchs an edge going into the two-leg tie? Almost certainly if it were not for the fact that a Bears threat could come from any number of different quarters.
Before this season got underway, Redcar boss Jitendra Duffill went on record as saying that the signing of Aussie Jake Allen could be the difference between mediocrity and actual title success for the Bears. High acclaim indeed, but with a CMA increase of almost one and a half in the space of four months, Allen's flourishing credentials would suggest that he is one rider capable of making a really impactful contribution when the tapes go up on Friday.
Allen will be a key man with Michael Palm Toft missing due to a hand injury, weirdly despite being top of the tree average wise for title chasing Peterborough in the Premiership the Dane only slots in at 4th for the Bears so rider replacement is in operation with Allen, Sarjeant and the reserve duo all due extra rides.
So, two teams that were separated by 1 place in the league standings and could not be separated earlier in the season over 2 matches all is set fair for a big weekend of close and enthralling action it all starts on Friday at Armadale.
Not able to attend? You can watch Friday's against Redcar live on EMTV for £11.99. Click below to pre-order your access:
Friday 1st October 2021, 3:40pm
In a bitter blow to the start of the Championship Play Off campaign, tonight's match against Redcar has been postponed due to the weather.
Thursday 30th September 2021, 12:20pm
Right at the start of the season the What the Fork Monarchs fought out a home-and-away double draw with Redcar Bears. So it seems appropriate that the teams meet up again towards the end with the goal of progressing to the semi-finals of the Championship Playoffs.
Thursday 30th September 2021, 11:07am
Order your copy of the Play Off Quarter Final Matchday Magazine now - a perfect accompaniment to your EMTV:Live experience!
Monday 27th September 2021, 7:30pm
Tickets for this Friday's massive Play Off Quarter Final against Redcar are now on sale. Read all the details here!