REPORT Sunday 27th May 2018, 9:40pm
The Staggs Bar Monarchs produced one of their best performances in recent memory as they fought back from 11 down to record a 46-43 victory at Ashfield and progress to the quarter final of the KO Cup by 5 on aggregate.
There may not have been many who fancied the Monarchs chances after their narrow 2 point victory in the first leg on Friday with a quiet confidence in the Glasgow camp they had done enough to progress.
This was looking well founded as the Tigers took an early lead. This did come with a little bit of good fortune as Josh Pickering's bike gave way causing him to come down while leading heat 2 comfortably. With Coty Garcia having failed to get off the starting line this meant a potential 3-3 turned into a Tigers 5-0 and our lead had been wiped out.
The next few heats would see the home side pad their lead with a brace of 4-2 advantages and the Monarchs were now 9 down on the day and 7 down overall.
The man who then stopped the rot was Monarchs number 1 Ricky Wells who steadied the ship with a tapes to flag victory in heat 6. The American recording a faultless maximum on the night was in a buoyant mood after saying ''I started out strong and we held tough in heat 13 and 15 that's what we needed. It's great to win at Glasgow and to win overall and it shows the fight in this team. To be honest I'm worn out it was a tough meeting but fantastic to get the win.''
By this point the Monarchs had also lost Max Ruml after a heavy crash in heat 3 that required a trip to the hospital, good news being that after scans Max has confirmed no broken bones or concussion although he will no doubt feel second hand tomorrow.
The Monarchs were to fall further behind in heat 7 and with only Wells having won a race for the Armadale men by this point it was starting to look like the tie may be getting away from them.
That was not to be the case though as to a man the Monarchs dug deep and blitzed the shocked Tigers in the second part of the meeting. First up was a massive 5-1 advantage from Josh Pickering and Joel Andersson in heat 8 this being followed up by a 4-2 in heat 9 and all of a sudden the deficit overall was only 3 and the Monarchs tails were up.
Heat 10 was to sway the tide a little as the Tigers pulled out a 4-2 of their own to regain a 5 point advantage but from there it was to be all Monarchs as they remarkably recorded the heat win in all of the last 5 races.
First up was Wells who took a strong win over Richie Worrall then came a controversial heat 12 that required no fewer than 3 goes to complete. In the first running Mark Riss came down on the first bend with the referee adjudging it as bunching and inviting all 4 back, this may have been a slightly fortunate turn for the Monarchs with many a referee potentially disqualifying the German as the cause of the stoppage. In the second re-run it was Riss again who was to come down this time it looking like Tigers Claus Vissing had chopped across in front of him and taken his front wheel. To be fair to the referee he maintained a consistency in his decisions and again all 4 were welcomed back. It was third time's the charm for Riss though as he made a jet propelled start and romped to victory his delight easy to see as he punched the air as he collected the plaudits of the Monarchs fans after the race.
So it was all boiling down to the battle of the big guns in heat 13 and again it was the Monarchs who perhaps carried a little fortune as the Tigers appeared to have made the jump only for Chris Harris to hit a rut on the inside of turn 1 and come down Erik Riss doing well to lay the bike down behind him and avoid an even nastier accident. With Harris correctly disqualified the Monarchs took full advantage racing from the tapes and taking a 5-1 to pull within 1 point on the day and take the aggregate lead back for the first time since the second race.
The Monarchs fans were in dreamland in heat 14 as reserve pairing Coty Garcia and Pickering made the start and were on a 5-1 that would seal qualification. As it was Garcia and Pickering could not quite get their lines sorted allowing Paul Starke into the mix and when he and Pickering collided entering the last corner of the last lap the Monarchs man's bike was to give up the ghost yet again gifting the Tigers a 3-3.
This meant it was all down to the last heat with the Monarchs just needing a share of the spoils to take the tie. As it was Wells and Erik Riss both made tremendous starts and ran an untroubled 4 laps and a 5-1 that not only clinched the tie but the win on the day by a score of 46-43 meaning an aggregate of 92-87 and a tie with Berwick in the quarter finals.
A truly remarkable performance by the Staggs Bar Monarchs and a richly deserved place in the next round that will leave many in the West wondering if their team has what it takes to contend.