Edinburgh Monarchs v Plymouth Devils

PREVIEW Friday 13th June 2014, 12:00pm

by Gordon Fraser

The Scotwaste Monarchs are back to full strength this Friday, but the same can't be said for this week's visitors, the Plymouth Devils who are without Adam Roynon and Roland Benko plus, if he is fit, Kalle Katajisto will be making his first return since picking up a wrist injury.

The home team are led by Craig Cook who is simply sensational in the Premier League but who unaccountably can't seem to translate that into the Elite League. He will have to be at his sharpest this week against his UK nemesis, Ben Barker who will be desperate to show he's top dog.

Last week's thoroughly deserving Monarch of the Match, Justin Sedgmen, has no direct opponent at No.2 where Plymouth operate rider replacement for Adam Roynon who was ditched by Sheffield only to suffer yet another serious injury before he had time to settle in as a Devil.

Max Fricke makes a welcome return to the blue and gold at No.3 where he could potentially be riding against a very well known face around the Armadale pits, Kalle Katajisto, the Finnish prospect who first appeared with Kai Laukkanen but who rather lost his way in subsequent seasons.

Monarchs' captain Derek Sneddon was showing his old impressive sharpness out of the traps last week and he'll need to be again since he seems to be evenly matched at No.4 with Poole-born Kyle Newman, now in his eighth UK season having enjoyed much success in the National league.

The ever-smiling Sam Masters certainly finds himself tested every week at No.5 and this week is no exception. His opposite number is one of the most highly rated young Danish riders in the world, Rasmus Jensen who has been scoring close to ten points per match for the Devils.

Aaron Fox slots back into the Monarchs side at No.6 on a tide of goodwill after his injury issues. He won't have much time to work his way back to where he left off against his opposite number, Zdenek 'Sam' Simota from the Czech Republic who is filling in for Alex Davies who had visa problems.

Monarchs have a dream reserve at No.7 in Stevie Worrall whose average fortunately trails well behind his current form, meaning that he stays at reserve for a bit longer. Plymouth's Hungarian No.7 Roland Benko is out injured and will be replaced by National League guest Ben Hopwood.

Just like last week's visitors, Sheffield Tigers, Plymouth have had a very up and down season so far. But while they may have lost more Premier League matches than they've won so far, they did make it through a tough southern League Cup section and any team to have taken a point at Somerset deserves respect.

Edinburgh are soaring away on top of the Premier League at present and will not want to slacken the pace. There are some dangerous double-figure scoring riders in the Plymouth line-up, so Monarchs will need to have at least four of their talented septet riding at the top of their game.

Plymouth are a small track side who have already won at Rye House, so the size of the Scotwaste Arena won't unduly worry them. However if Monarchs can start the match strongly, they should still be able to make home track advantage count and take all three points. Be there for tapes up at 7.30 sharp.

Likely line-ups:

SCOTWASTE MONARCHS: Craig Cook, Justin Sedgmen, Max Fricke, Derek Sneddon (capt.), Sam Masters, Aaron Fox, Steve Worrall.

PLYMOUTH DEVILS: Ben Barker, rider replacement for Adam Roynon, Kalle Katajisto, Kyle Newman, Rasmus Jensen, Sam Simota, Ben Hopwood (guest).