PREVIEW Friday 14th September 2018, 2:31pm
It's win or bust for the Staggs Bar Monarchs this week if we are to cling onto our faint hopes of reaching the playoffs as we welcome the Berwick Bandits to Armadale in our final SGB Championship match of the year.
Results have not went the way the Monarchs would have liked this week after our largely abject performance at Ashfield on Tuesday being compounded by the Tigers taking all 4 points available at Ipswich on Thursday night this means qualification is out of our hands.
As it stands Peterborough and Glasgow are secured their spots while mathematically the last 2 spots can come from any of the Monarchs, Lakeside, Workington and Berwick although it would take a strange set of results for it not to be the Hammers and Comets that finish the field.
Of course that mean that at this stage all the Monarchs can do is defeat the Bandits then sit back and see what happens.
That will not be an easy task though as the Bandits have shown themselves up well in recent weeks but appear to be falling foul of the weather time and again, the Borders men leading at both Armadale and Ipswich when rain put halt to proceedings for the two matches they have this weekend.
The Bandits team does have a slightly different make-up since we last saw them with the new averages ending Nikolaj Busk-Jakobsen's brief and fruitful spell at reserve the Dane being replaced there by Dany Gappmaier. Further to this a recent uptick in form of Aaron Summers sees him regain the number 1 jacket from Kevin Doolan.
The Bandits strength this year has been in the solidness of their line-up with no weak links at any point and remarkably less than 2 points separates the top averaged (Summers) from the bottom (Theo Pijper) in their 1-7. Having this level of scoring potential at the bottom end has been a real boon and this should be no different at Armadale with Theo Pijper in excellent form of late the most experienced man in either side at the circuit.
Summers, Doolan, Jakobsen and David Howe all boast excellent Armadale meetings in the not to distant past with the latter appearing to have overcome a knock and although better known as big track riders Jye Etheridge and Gappmaier can always spring a surprise so the home men will need to be at their best to take the spoils.
For the Monarchs Joel Andersson misses out after breaking 2 bones in his right foot in his heat 2 crash last Friday, Scunthorpe's Gino Manzares stepping in to guest. Beyond that the rest of the line-up is as per usual and all will be looking to bounce back to and show their usual dominant home form after the horror show at Ashfield.
So one last push is required if we are to have any chance of having a chance at grabbing that 6th title and with a tough Bandits team in town looking for maximum points to keep themselves in the playoff picture a tough night lies ahead.
Can the boys come through victorious, there's only one place to be to find out and that's trackside.
See you there!