Edinburgh Monarchs v Workington Comets

PREVIEW Friday 27th September 2013, 12:00pm

by Gordon Fraser

  Edinburgh Monarchs

After a difficult week clearing up after yet another expensive bout of vandalism, Edinburgh Monarchs will be looking to lift the spirits of their management and supporters on Friday with a convincing win over the visiting Workington Comets in their second Premier League Play-Off fixture.

Workington did well to finish fifth in the regular season, one place behind Edinburgh, and will be looking for a big improvement on their performance in the league match between the sides on 21 June when Monarchs came out on top by 61-34 only to have the return leg the following night rained off when they were on a roll.

Craig Cook continues to dazzle at No.1 by picking up almost perfect scores everywhere he goes, including against his former team and his former teammate and now rival from Cumbria, Richard Lawson who himself recorded a double figure score in that Premier League defeat at Armadale.

Edinburgh’s captain, Derek Sneddon, is still struggling for the consistency that would bring him big scores on his return to No.2. Last time he scored a paid ten against the one-time popular Monarchs' reserve, Kyle Howarth from Manchester who only scored two but is capable of much more this time.

After a really solid start to his Monarchs' season, Claus Vissing has been struggling badly of late and has been shuffled to No.3 where he faces another former Monarchs' favourite, Rusty Harrison from Adelaide who has thrilled many speedway crowds with his all-out, board-scraping style.

Last time it was rider replacement for both teams at No.4, but while the Monarchs' Hungarian hot-shot, Jozsef Tabaka is back and showing his best Armadale form, his opposite number, Tero Aarnio has unluckily been injured again, this time in a track crash in Sweden which has ruled him out for the rest of the season.

Theo Pijper has been riding the wheels of his bike recently after his recovery from injury and this week he moves to the No.5 position where he lines up opposite former Newcastle favourite, Rene Bach from Denmark who had an uncharacteristically quiet scoring night on his visit in June.

Berwick's all-out trier who has proved to be a real Armadale crowd pleaser, Liam Carr, is once again the Monarchs' injury replacement for Mitchell Davey at No.6 where he faces another popular ex-Monarchs' reserve, Ashley Morris who recorded a paid eight points in the previous match.

The young Australian gem, Max Fricke, was the star performer for Monarchs in his first ever match against Workington with paid seventeen. A repeat would be very welcome against one of British speedway's long distance travellers, Chris Mills from Essex who was part of the all-conquering King's Lynn Premier League side..

Having let the chance of a KO Cup Final place slip through their fingers, Monarchs will be doubly keen to maintain their interest in reaching the Play-Off Final by picking up all three points against the Comets before they face up to their other mini-section opponents, Ipswich Witches, away then at home in the coming week.

With home advantage, Monarchs should have too much fire-power for Workington but expect the score, and the racing, to be much closer this time. Comets have a good away record and have riders throughout their side who are capable of taking advantage of any slip-ups. Another great match is in prospect. Tapes up 7.30 sharp!

Likely line-ups:

EDINBURGH SCOTWASTE MONARCHS: Craig Cook, Derek Sneddon (capt), Claus Vissing, Jozsef Tabaka, Theo Pijper, Liam Carr, Max Fricke.

WORKINGTON ‘THOMAS ARMSTRONG' COMETS: Richard Lawson (capt), Rusty Harrison, Kyle Howarth, rider replacement for Tero Aarnio, Rene Bach, Ashley Morris, Chris Mills.