Team Manager: Alex Harkess
|1. Sam Masters||3||2*||3||1*||2*||11||3|
|2. Anders Rowe||3||0||0||3||0|
|3. Kye Thomson||2*||1*||2*||2*||7||4|
|4. Josh Pickering||3||2||3||2||10||0|
|5. Richie Worrall||3||2||3||2||3||13||0|
|6. Drew Kemp||1||3||1*||3||0||0||8||1|
|7. Jason Edwards||FD||0||3||3||0|
Team Manager: Cameron Brown
|1. Craig Cook||2||3||2||3||1||11||0|
|2. Sam Jensen||XO||0||2||1*||3||1|
|3. Broc Nicol||0||0||1*||1||2||1|
|4. Tom Brennan||1||3||2||3||FD||9||0|
|5. Ricky Wells||2||1||1||0||4||0|
|6. Marcin Nowak||1*||0||0||1||1|
|7. Connor Bailey||2||1*||1*||0||1||5||2|
On a night of tension and drama the What the Fork Monarchs succeeded in overturning the 16 point deficit from the first leg, taking a last heat 5-1 in a rerun race to go through on a 92-88 aggregate to meet Poole in the Knockout Cup final.
They had edged their way in front early on and built up a lead on the night, going ahead on aggregate in heat 12, only to be pegged back in the penultimate race to set up a sensational finish. It was a disappointing night for Glasgow who had a few riders below expectations.
Captain Sam Masters was smiling even more broadly than ever by the finish. "The whole 1 to 7 did their job tonight, no-one was being carried. Anders had a tough day on the road, missed heat 1 then came to out to win his next race – unreal! I'm a happy captain."
Team manager Alex Harkess said "I'm very satisfied, we achieved what we set out to do, there was a great deal of determination in that performance and we rode very well.
"Everyone chipped in with wins and paid wins and they just would not be denied. Our youngsters missed a chance in heat 2 when Jason Edwards fell, but he got a crucial win in heat 12 and there were wins for Drew Kemp and Anders Rowe as well. Sam Masters and Richie Worrall proved in that last heat that they are great in these high pressure situations.
"I'm not getting carried away about tomorrow, things are never as simple as you think they might be." The two teams of course meet at Armadale tomorrow in the Championship Playoff first leg.
Tonight's match started with a Monarch missing as Anders Rowe was stuck in traffic and had to be replaced in heat 1. The replacement rider Drew Kemp was accidentally brought down by Sam Jensen who was excluded, so Monarchs started with a 4-2, Masters holding off an early challenge from Cook.
The home reserves gated in heat 2 but Edwards came down awkwardly on the first corner, with Marcin Nowak managing to swerve and avoid him thankfully. Kemp won the rerun with Edwards out.
Monarchs made their first big move in heat 3 in which Pickering and Thomson took a big 5-1 over Tom Brennan who was making his Armadale debut. Brennan however was highly impressive in the later stages.
The next two heats were shared, a determined heat 4 win for Richie Worrall who had to subdue Ricky Wells, then perhaps the ride of the night from Craig Cook who cut back brilliantly to pass Josh Pickering. So after one-third of the match, Monarchs had pegged back 6 of the 16 points.
Then Anders Rowe burst on the scene, and got a tremendous run to the front with captain Masters sitting in second and keeping an eye on the opposition – a vital 5-1.
Heat 7 went to the excellent Brennan who got clear of Worrall, with Kemp in third place. Heat 8 looked like a chance for Monarchs but although Kemp took the heat, Edwards finished at the rear. The next big move was only delayed one race though.
Not for the first time it was Thomson and Pickering again, outsmarting Wells and with 6 races left, Monarchs were only two down on aggregate.
Masters had to work very hard to pass Brennan round the outside on the opening lap of heat 10, then hold him off, and with Rowe at the back there was still work to do. The fierce determination of Worrall brought him a heat 11 win over Cook but Tigers were still just in front overall.
Tigers gated in heat 12 only for the red lights to come on, Broc Nicol earning his second warning of the night which meant he was going off 15 metres. Connor Bailey, a steady performer all night, was unfortunate to make a much less good start in the rerun and Edwards was able to race ahead with Thomson backing up – Monarchs were in front for the first time.
Heat 13 was a fierce battle, not so much for Cook who raced away to win from gate 2, but for Worrall and Masters who had to work so hard to subdue Wells who was also away well. Richie Worrall just squeezed past going into the third corner and Masters managed to follow suit later.
Heat 14 might have finished it off, but that man Brennan again was to the fore taking an excellent win, while Bailey took an important third over Kemp – so we were level again!
Masters and Worrall lined up in the decider for Monarchs, Brennan and Cook for the Tigers – and the home pair battled to the front. This should have been the clincher – but it wasn't because Brennan came down in third place as the riders started the second lap. The 5-1 had looked a certainty.
However it was only delayed. It was not hard to imagine Craig Cook jetting off for a win, but the home men were not having it and comfortably took the maximum to clinch the tie. The celebrations began – but there's more tomorrow.
Another week, another totally absorbing chapter in the story of Edinburgh Monarchs' quest for honours 2021-style. Incident, accident and more twist and turns than the road back to Airdrie, you're never quite sure what's round the next bend, only that it won't be run of the mill.
On the face of it, last Friday's return leg of our play-off quarter-final with Redcar Bears, barring some kind of monumental disaster, had the uncomplicated look of a shoo-in. A lead of 12 points from the first leg at the Bears' Prima Media Arena had surely paved the way for a comfortable, through-the-motions passage into the semi-finals and an all-Scottish clash with Glasgow….
….And that's precisely how it panned out – but on Tuesday, rather than Friday. One Redcar rider who must have wished that the tie had run its course on the Friday, though, is former Edinburgh star, James Sarjeant – even if it had meant the end of his team's Championship aspirations for another year.
Even allowing for his speedway rider's fiercely competitive streak, what in hindsight the Sheffield-born 27-year-old would have given for a trouble-free fifteen heats at the office. What, in actual fact, he got was a horror crash on the second bend of the first lap of the first heat that left him with knee and pelvic injuries that required a trip to hospital in the track ambulance.
Crashes, of course, are an unfortunate part of this sport's rich tapestry yet, even though measures to ensure rider safety have never been more stringent, a bad one still has the capacity to shock. And no matter from which angle you viewed it from, Sarj's high speed charge into the air fence looked so horrific it stunned an entire stadium into silence.
Trivialities like silverware and title wins pale into insignificance at such times, and even though the meeting was eventually abandoned after a lengthy delay, thoughts around Armadale centred purely on James and his well-being.
The tie was quickly rearranged for the following Tuesday, but first we had the small matter of a Knockout Cup semi-final against Glasgow to contend with. Keeping the score as tight as possible in Sunday's first leg at Ashfield was always going to be tough but, in light of the Monarchs' current form and the fact that their last visit to the Tigers' den had ended in victory, confidence was high for a positive result to take back to the 'Dale.
Sadly, as things turned out, any notion of the Monarchs staying within touch of their rivals was scuppered as early as Heat 2 by which time Glasgow had forged ahead 9-3. What followed was as uncharacteristically flat a performance as we've been privy to all season. Only Sam and Kye contributed more than half a dozen points, while a combined tally of just ten was all that could be had from Masters' fellow heat-leaders Richie and Josh. Yet even though we managed just one heat advantage all evening, our points deficit with two heats remained a far from insurmountable ten.
Like with those opening races, however, the Tigers finished the meeting in devastating style with heat advantages in Heats 14 and 15 that stretched that margin to a far less forgiving 16 points.
Clawing back that level of arrears in this Friday's second leg at Armadale would be a magnificent achievement although, following Tuesday's emphatic win over the Bears, perhaps one not quite as daunting as it first seemed.
That 57-33 defeat of Redcar, repeated against Glasgow on Friday, would be more than enough to see us progress to the KO Cup final but I fear the Tigers won 't be quite the easy touch the Bears turned out to be. Lewis Kerr apart, they proved a mere shadow of the side that left Armadale with two points back in May. They may well have been boosted by having Michael Palm Toft back from injury but the influential Dane was clearly still suffering from his hand injury and a fall in outing No.3 signalled his withdrawal from the meeting.
Elsewhere, the four rider replacement run-outs for James Sarjeant yielded just a single point between them, while neither Jordan Jenkins nor Ryan Kinsley managed to score at all when stepping in for Palm Toft.
The briefest glimpse of intent courtesy of a Charles Wright-inspired 4-2 in Heat 1 fleetingly set Edinburgh nerves a-jangling, but it was reserves-to-the-rescue one race later when the guesting Jason Edwards led Drew Kemp to a storming 5-1. Plain sailing from then on in perhaps, but I doubt the cards will fall so conveniently for us the next time.
As if we haven't been served up enough drama and excitement already, the upcoming weekend looks set to be even more enthralling than anything that's gone before. At the risk of understating things here, those Friday and Saturday night visits to come from our friends and rivals along the M8 are sure to make for a mouth-watering and unmissable spectacle.
No, cancel that – this is massive in the annals of the Edinburgh Monarchs; back to back classics that could be the subject of discussion and reminiscence for many years to come – hopefully more by our fans than theirs!
With perpetual guest (and we're extremely fortunate to have him) Jason Edwards virtually part of the Armadale furniture these days, Edinburgh will be at full strength for the tartan double-header. Glasgow, meanwhile, miss Tom Brennan for Sunday's clash. The Tigers' recent signing's outstanding form of late has been rewarded with the Under-21 slot in Great Britain's Speedway of Nations line-up for this weekend's finals at Belle Vue. Berwick Bandits' Leon Flint will deputise.
Wednesday 13th October 2021, 1:56pm
Monarchs and Tigers are both committed to chasing the silverware in the Championship, and will meet in two of their biggest ever meetings on successive days at Armadale this weekend – the Knockout Cup semi final second leg on Friday (7:30pm), and the Championship Playoff semi-final first leg on Saturday (7pm).