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Edinburgh Monarchs v Leicester Lions

PREVIEW Friday 18th May 2012, 12:00pm

by Gordon Fraser

Edinburgh make a second attempt to (dare we say it) 'launch' their home Premier League programme this Friday (7.30) against a vastly different Leicester Lions side to the one that produced a coupon-busting result on their first Armadale appearance last year.

Nobody gave them a chance on that occasion but they caught the Monarchs on a distinctly off night. However their current side contains enough talented riders and track specialists to give the home stars a run for their money even on a good night if given half a chance.

Up top, Monarchs undisputed No.1, Craig Cook, once again has the chance to show off his new found confidence and determination against a top opponent when he faces one of the all-time favourite ex-Monarchs, Magnus Karlsson, now 30 and just as potent a heat leader as ever.

It's rider replacement at No.2 again this week for both sides with Edinburgh still missing the unlucky Derek Sneddon who was catapulted off his machine at Glasgow and Leicester having to do without the exciting young Danish prospect, Lasse Bjerre, wee brother of Grand Prix star, Kenneth.

What a tremendous match-up we have at No.3 where the flying Dutchman, Theo Pijper faces Lincolnshire lad, Simon Lambert who has at times flitted between the Premier and National Leagues but who is now settled at the higher level and has shown he can score heavily around the Scotwaste Arena.

Matthew Wethers is begun to show signs of gradually getting back to his best and he will hope to continue his return to bigger pay-nights against a young Finnish opponent, Jari Makinen who has previously had brief spells with Mildenhall and Somerset but has yet to really make his mark in the UK.

There's another fabulous match-up at No. 5 where super-quick Andrew Tully is paired against the skipper of the Lions, the one-time Workington favourite, Kauko Nieminen. Now a vastly experienced rider, the Flying Finn will not want to give second best to the Flying Scot.

It's Australia v Denmark at No.6 where the steadily improving Micky Dyer continues to impress in his first season. His opposite number, Leicester asset Jan Graversen, may be called on to take a number of extra rides, so this will be as important a match-up as any throughout the card.

Charles Wright returns to Armadale after a short absence with a burning desire to put his recent spell of ill-luck well and truly behind him and get back to piling up the points. He lines up opposite the Lions third Dane, 21-year-old prospect Simon Nielsen who is in his first full UK season.

So once again we have two very well matched sides which should make for a great match. Let's hope the sun makes an appearance as the rain has been playing havoc with the speedway fixture lists south of the border and the postponement kings, Ipswich, sent a downpour ahead of them last week.

As he has been doing all season, Doc Bridgett is sure to have a great racing strip prepared no matter what, which makes for easily the best speedway to be seen in the north. Monarchs recent home form should make them favourites but don't underestimate this dangerous Scandinavian select. It should be another belter!

Likely line-ups:

SCOTWASTE MONARCHS: Craig Cook, Rider replacement for Derek Sneddon, Theo Pijper, Matthew Wethers (capt.), Andrew Tully, Micky Dyer, Charles Wright.

LEICESTER LIONS: Magnus Karlsson, Rider replacement for Lasse Bjerre, Simon Lambert, Jari Makinen, Kauko Nieminen (capt.), Jan Graversen, Simon Nielsen.