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Edinburgh Monarchs v Sheffield Tigers

REPORT Friday 30th April 2010, 10:00pm

by Mike Hunter

This was a night when we saw just about everything a speedway match can offer, good and bad, and in the end Monarchs can be happy with their display and the result.

After an hour, we didn't feel so good! There had been two major pileups on a track that was wet after a late watering, and a very long delay while Arlo Bugeja in particular was patched up. By that time too Kalle Katajisto had suffered a mangled frame and front wheel and had to change bikes again.

Mercifully, all went well after that. There were still plenty of incidents and referee Dishington was called on to make several decisions. No two people would ever agree on everything but the decisions seemed to be made in an even-handed manner, from the viewpoint which he had.

The first disaster came in heat one. Arriving at the first turn with Ashworth ahead, Fisher tried to turn back, Tabaka ran into him and Skidmore rode straight across the front of them and fell also.

Fisher got the blame, and the rerun was a pretty easy Sheffield 5-1 as Tabaka gated slowly.

Heat 2 was even worse. The first bend was really tight and Cal McDade was trapped on the inside and not able to turn. He ran into Bugeja, and everyone came down and rammed the fence. Cal went off to the right, the other three smashed the boards further round the bend.

The result was a mangled machine for Katajisto and a clattering for Arlo, who seems thankfully not to be too badly hurt.

Around 8.30 we reconvened for the rerun, with Kalle on another machine (he brought two this week). Cal was excluded and Arlo unfit (it seems unfair that an injured rider isn't awarded a point in this situation).

Paul Cooper gated but a great chase and pass by Kalle gave us a 3-2 advantage.

Cooper was in for a busy night and he was out again in heat 4, but quickly down when he fell on the pits turn after being passed again by Kalle. In the rerun Hall's bike sounded rough and he just avoided being lapped as Tully and Katajisto had a free ride.

Monarchs were 14-9 up but were soon back in the melting pot as the impressive Skidmore led, with Ashworth eventually coming down as Wolbert went inside him. Observers in line with the incident said the exclusion for Wolbert was a wrong decision.

After Jozsef's disappointing heat 1, he shot from the traps and led all the way in heat 6 with Ryan Fisher sitting behind him, maybe slightly wary that his partner might hit trouble - but he didn't. The time was a decent 56.3 so he is getting the hang of things.

Still we couldn't relax because Franc and Auty raced ahead in heat 7. Andrew Tully barged under Auty and muscled into second, but could not relax as Auty tried to come back on him. Eventually Josh fell on the last corner with his bike jammed against the fence.

He did get help to pull it out as someone lifted the fence, and strictly speaking should not have been allowed to push home for the point, but no-one could really begrudge it.

Skidmore made it paid 9 with a win in heat 8, and it looked for most of the race as though Cooper would make it a 5-1. However Kalle pulled off an excellent outside pass and Cooper was sufficiently unsettled to also be passed by Tabaka, and Monarchs had salvaged a 3-3.

There seemed no reason or excuse for Cooper causing a rumpus after the heat, but he did.

Wethers and Wolbert were back on the money with another 5-1 though, and this time Monarchs did not slip back. Fisher won heat 10 but Tabaka, having held second for much of the heat, lost position on the last lap and was passed by Auty and Franc.

There was a bump on the way to the first bend in heat 11 and Skidmore dropped ever so slowly off against the fence. He wasn't happy but he was excluded, and had to cart back to the pits a bike with a locked back wheel.

The rerun showed the best of Andrew again as he passed Ashworth for another win, with Cal riding carefully for the gift point.

Wolbert and Katajisto took an easy 5-1 over a subdued Auty in heat 12 and now it was TR time.

Again Ashworth gated well but Fisher and Tully were irresistible and swept past on the opening lap for a 5-1.

That allowed another TR for Franc in heat 14, but he didn't win it - not because heat leader Wethers beat him, but because we saw another flying ride by Katajisto taking his score to a spectacular paid 14.

Tully and Fisher made the start in the last heat but Franc spun round on the first turn, and rather annoyingly he made little effort to get his bike off. However we were rewarded with a thrilling rerun.

Fisher led but under strong challenge from Ashworth who looked like passing on the outside a couple of times. However you can never write off Tully, and he caught the Sheffield man with an inside pass to complete a thrilling 5-1 and in the end, a comfortable win.