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Edinburgh Monarchs v Workington Comets

PREVIEW Friday 26th September 2014, 12:00pm

by Gordon Fraser

Edinburgh begin rounds three and four of the Premier League Play-Offs with home and away matches against every pundit's pre-season favourites, the Workington Comets, starting with a match the Monarchs have to win well on Friday at the Scotwaste Arena.

They're already off to a flier with home and away wins over Berwick before the teams in the other half of the draw have even got their challenges started, but they can't afford to be complacent against a Workington side affected by injuries but still with four riders all capable of scoring big points.

It's not a surprise to anyone that after a spirited performance last week for Berwick, Kevin Doolan has been chosen to guest for the Comets' injured No.1 Josh Grajczonek. He'll have to be at his very best to match the one-time Comet, the mean, green flying machine, Craig Cook.

Workington also have a more than useful rider at No.2, the New Zealand born, one-time California State Champion, Ricky Wells who is second in the Comets averages. This will pose a challenge for Justin Sedgmen whose fine season still sees him one and a half points adrift.

Max Fricke is having a storming end to his second UK season, his first as a heat leader, but he is still out-gunned on paper by his opposite number at 3, Rene Bach from Denmark who made such a big impact with Newcastle and has since become a permanent fixture at Derwent Park.

Steve Worrall's hectic schedule of riding in all three leagues, plus guest and invitational appearances, continues around the Scotwaste Arena against Mason Campton from Kurri Kurri in New South Wales who first appeared as a Glasgow Tiger and is close to completing two seasons as a Comet.

Smilin' Sam Masters is certainly showing the form which first attracted Monarchs to sign him and he lines up against another rider at No.5 whom Monarchs also regarded very highly at one time, Kyle Howarth from Manchester who now has a healthy average of over six points per match.

This week it's Workington who have the problems at reserve where they have been forced to go with a National League guest for Joe Jacobs who is forced to ride for Coventry. This gives Aaron Fox the chance to pile up some points to match his improving Armadale form.

Monarchs heroic captain, Derek Sneddon, fresh from his match-winning return at Berwick, lines up at No.7 against Simon Lambert from Boston in Lincolnshire who has ridden around the Armadale shale many times in a variety of race jackets in his ten years in speedway.

Very surprisingly, Monarchs have been looking distinctly wobbly at home if the conditions aren't completely to their liking and they are put under early pressure, so Workington will be hoping to get off to a flying start. In Doolan, Wells, Bach and Campton they have the riders to do it.

Overall though, with Monarchs at full strength and another run of unbeaten matches behind them, it's hard to see a Workington side with two of their regular riders missing knocking them off their pedestal. The blue and gold brigade will want to keep sending strong messages south.

The Friday nights when you'll be able to see this magnificent, all conquering Monarchs side are running short so make sure you take your usual spot on the terraces to enjoy watching your favourites strut their stuff. Comets should keep the speedway close and entertaining. Tapes up at 7.30 sharp.

Likely line-ups:

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

WORKINGTON COMETS: Kevin Doolan (guest), Ricky Wells, Rene Bach(capt.), Mason Campton, Kyle Howarth, Ryan MacDonald (guest), Simon Lambert