Edinburgh Monarchs v Sheffield Tigers

PREVIEW Friday 17th June 2011, 12:00pm

by Gordon Fraser

Only a month ago Monarchs beat this Friday's visitors to the Scotwaste Arena at 7.30 by 20 points in the KO Cup second leg, but Sheffield Tigers have shuffled the pack since then and they look a very different prospect this time around in a Premier League match.

From the top, instead of Kevin Wolbert v Ricky Ashworth, it's Monarchs guest James Grieves v Aaron Summers, Sheffield's guest for Josh Awty. James is unlikely to match Kevin's 15-point maximum, while Aaron will almost certainly improve on Josh's paid five.

Next up, skipper Matthew Wethers faces Emiliano Sanchez who moves up to No.2. The Argentinian crashed out of May's encounter without scoring in so he can hardly fail to improve by a significant margin this time around.

Andrew Tully will be hoping his fantastic Armadale form doesn't desert him this week as he faces Sheffield skipper Ricky Ashworth who drops to No.3. Ricky could also improve his scoring, having had two second places but failing to finish two of his four rides last time.

Kalle Katajisto should be expected to get the better of Hugh Skidmore at No.4 provided his form is more hot than cold. The young Australian also failed to finish two of his five races in May for a paid five return, whereas Kalle had two heat wins in his four outings.

Craig Cook will be glad to return to Armadale after a couple of very forgettable away matches but as usual he will have his work cut out at No.5. He faces that scourge of the Monarchs over the years, Shane Parker, who has had a few 'last seasons', but this time may indeed be his last.

Lee Dicken has started to pick up a few points at No.6 but this week he faces the lively Simon Lambert who has proved a potent Owlerton reserve and who got into double figures from seven rides last time. This match-up is every bit as critical to the outcome as any in the top five.

Finally, Monarchs long run of guest reserves continues as Ashley Morris again fills in for Kyle Howarth. Can the popular little Wolverhampton asset snatch a few points this week when he lines up opposite Ashley Birks who was another who failed to finish two races last time.

Edinburgh v Sheffield matches have traditionally been 60-30 affairs to whichever team is at home but this has the look of a much closer affair. Monarchs were back to their old habit of throwing away careless points last Friday and they can't afford a repeat if they want to take all three points.

So it looks like we are in for yet another week of close racing of the tense and exciting variety. Home advantage should still be a significant factor but that won't count for as much against Summers, Parker and Lambert, so the makeshift Monarchs will have to be at their best in what could be a cliffhanger.

Likely line-ups:

EDINBURGH SCOTWASTE MONARCHS: James Grieves (guest), Matthew Wethers (capt.), Andrew Tully, Kalle Katajisto, Craig Cook, Lee Dicken, Ashley Morris (guest).

SHEFFIELD WINDOW CENTRE TIGERS: Aaron Summers (guest), Emiliano Sanchez, Ricky Ashworth (capt.), Hugh Skidmore, Shane Parker, Ashley Birks, Simon Lambert.