NEWS Tuesday 27th May 2008, 8:32am

by Mike Hunter

The Scotwaste Monarchs are performing brilliantly in the Premier League at the moment but they face a tough Knockout Cup tie against Redcar this week.

It is tough because Redcar are Armadale specialists, having won twice in West Lothian last season, and also because fixture clashes rob them of key team members over the two nights.

William Lawson rides in the British Final on Thursday, Thomas Jonasson's Nordic Under-21 Final keeps him out of both matches and Andrew Tully rides on Thursday but then sets off for Gustrow and his Under-21 round, missing Friday's second leg.

TEAMS FOR THE KNOCKOUT CUP MATCH AT ARMADALE ON FRIDAY 30th May (start time 7.30, doors open 6.30) are:

EDINBURGH SCOTWASTE MONARCHS: William Lawson, Rider replacement for Thomas Jonasson, Derek Sneddon (capt.), Ryan Fisher, Matthew Wethers, Sean Stoddart, Aaron Summers.

REDCAR TLS BEARS: Gary Havelock, Joni Keskinen, James Grieves, Dan Giffard, Ty Proctor, Josh Auty, Arlo Bugeja.

THE FIXTURE CLASHES: There is always a lot going on in Speedway and fixtures can clash, but Monarchs have been unlucky this week.

William Lawson has been given a wild card entry to the British Final and will be at Swindon on Thursday.

Thomas Jonasson has the Nordic Under-21 Final in Finland on Saturday and the practise on Friday, and even though every effort was made to find a flight to allow him to appear at Redcar, it wasn't possible.

Then out of the blue last Friday Andrew Tully was called into the World Under-21 to replace an injured rider.

This means the high scoring reserve misses Friday's second leg, a major blow in his current form.

So the riders who are wearing blue and gold this week will need to be at their best over the two days to progress in the Cup.

Monarchs call in Tomas Topinka at Redcar on Thursday and Sean Stoddart on Friday, and use rider replacement for Jonasson both days.

GREAT LEAGUE RESULTS: Monarchs had a terrific Bank Holiday weekend against Scunthorpe, beating them at Armadale by a record 68-22 score (the biggest winning margin of the Armadale era) and taking the return by 53-39 in a match much tougher than the score suggests.

They are lying third in the league, 3 points behind Somerset and Workington but with matches in hand.

SPONSOR ON FRIDAY: The Hampton Hotel of 14 Corstorphine Road, Edinburgh are sponsors of Friday night's KO Cup tie. The Hampton are the Monarchs' venue of choice in the city.

TOP CLASS SPEARHEAD: Redcar won twice at Armadale last season, and that was largely due to Gary Havelock and James Grieves who were virtually invincible for the visitors.

Both are track specialists. Grieves is a former Monarch and scored maximums in both Redcar's visits last season, while ex-World Champion Havelock has been unstinting in his praise for the Armadale circuit and has only dropped 3 points in 4 visits.

The other danger men will be sensational new Aussie Ty Proctor who is probably the most impressive newcomer in the league this year, and the talented Josh Auty at reserve. Auty has struggled a bit this season but he is good enough to have a real bearing on this tie.

The Bears of course are currently without their injured American rider Chris Kerr and recently signed Finn Joni Keskinen to replace him.

LAST WEEK'S MEETING: Monarchs hammered Scunthorpe 68-22 at Armadale with full maximums for William Lawson and Andrew Tully and a paid maximum for Matthew Wethers.

NEXT WEEK'S MEETING: The visitors to Armadale on Friday 6th June are Isle of Wight, currently sitting in fourth place in the Premier League.