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Edinburgh Monarchs v Glasgow Tigers

PREVIEW Thursday 24th April 2014, 12:00pm

by Gordon Fraser

The gloves will be off this Friday at Armadale when the Glasgow Tigers come calling with virtually their full side for a crucial League Cup encounter straight after their solid win against Monarchs at Ashfield last Sunday.

Make no mistake, any permutations of bonus points will not be on the Tigers' minds, they will be travelling east with only one thing in mind - breaking the spell Monarchs have had over them for so long and winning outright on the night to confirm them as winners of a very tough section.

Right up front there is a mouth-watering match-up at No.1 where one-time Workington team-mates Craig Cook and Richard Lawson will be battling it out for supremacy. Both have bags of experience at both Premier and Elite level, so the home fans will be hoping Craig has no more engine problems.

It's a similar story at No.2, where Justin Sedgmen's equipment let him down at Ashfield where in cricketing terms, he failed to trouble the scorers. He has the chance to redeem himself against Tigers' young French prospect, Dimitri Berge who is looking to make his mark in his second season.

The first half of the new German pairing for Monarchs, Kevin Wolbert has made a solid start to his switch from the Tigers to the Monarchs this year but this week he is matched up at No.3 against the experienced one-time Monarch, Aaron Summers who knows the quickest way around the Armadale shale.

The second German rider, Erik Riss, is Monarchs' investment in the future who is already showing signs of holding his own at home until he finds his speedway feet. His opposite number is the Australian, Kozza Smith, now entering his eighth season having been a Berwick Bandit for a couple of seasons.

At No.5 for Monarchs is a rider who was rumoured to be on Tigers' shopping list, smilin' Sam Masters who has turned into one of the most dominant riders in the Premier League. He faces the speedy Australian, Nick Morris who returns to the Tigers after three seasons away from the team who first gave him a start.

Max Clegg is making excellent progress so far in his transition from National League to Premier League. Facing him on the other side of the pits at No.6 for the second young rider retained by the Tigers, Victor Palovaara from Sweden who has seen just about as much of the Armadale track as the home riders.

Last but not least, Monarchs No.7, Rob Branford is doing a pretty good job so far at reserve as he tries to push on upwards in the sport. For Tigers, the lively James Sarjeant is not available and is replaced by a young rider from Yorkshire, Danny Phillips who saw lots of National League success with Cradley last year.

A month into the season, this is the first major test for the rebuilt Monarchs side who swept all before them last season. It's just as big a test for the completely new Glasgow side who will arrive full of confidence and will be ready to pounce on any slip-ups and capitalise on any signs of weakness.

Monarchs have already shown enough form so far at home in brushing aside Workington and Berwick as well as a different Glasgow line-up this month to make them start as favourites.. Glasgow will be looking to keep the scores as close as possible so that if they don't take the win, they still get a valuable point.

If you love your speedway, Armadale is the only place to be on Friday. Two very evenly matched Scottish sides with everything to play for going at it full throttle. Will it be Monarchs or Tigers who take the bragging rights from this one? Take your place on the terraces to find out. Tapes up at 7.30 sharp.

Likely line-ups:

EDINBURGH BORDER ROOFING MONARCHS: Craig Cook (capt.), Justin Sedgmen, Kevin Wolbert, Erik Riss, Sam Masters, Max Clegg, Rob Branford.

GLASGOW ALLIED VEHICLES TIGERS: Richard Lawson, Dimitri Berge, Aaron Summers (capt.), Kozza Smith, Nick Morris, Victor Palovaara, Danny Phillips (guest).