PREVIEW Friday 24th May 2019, 11:00am
After the disappointment of the late rain off a few weeks back we go again in the re-arrangement of our Championship Shield match against local rivals Glasgow in the last match in the group stages.
With the preceding results meaning the Staggs Bar Monarchs can no longer qualify for the semi final that does not mean there is nothing riding on this meeting as of course it is a local derby and those are never meaningless not to mention the fact that the Tigers can qualify for those semi's with a draw or better.
Any victory for the home men will end the Tigers hopes so the visitors will be sure to be even more determined to score a victory. With that in mind there has been a little bit of a shuffling of the pack by team boss Cami Brown in the hope of adding some strength to the pairings.
These changes have no affect at number 1 where Craig Cook is the talisman of the team, Cook is on one of his incredible runs that we so often saw when he was a Monarch currently averaging a remarkable average of 11.22 for the season so far. It would appear that Cook's winter of discontent in the Premiership has truly focussed him on his Championship commitments with the Tigers being the major beneficiary of this so far.
The reshuffle then comes in the engine room behind Cook with Paul Starke being moved to number 5 leaving a strong middle pairing of Rasmus Jensen and Claus Vissing . With Starke's excellent previous record at Armadale the hope here appears to be that the Englishman will look after himself there while the Danish duo can take advantage of Josh Pickering's absence and provide a strong middle order.
James Sarjeant remains at number 2 with the young Englishman now well settled in at Ashfield and enjoying a strong season also, Sarjeant is another with some fantastic Armadale performances on his resume and if he is firing tonight then a tough night lies in store.
At reserve the Tigers will look for the excellent form of Kyle Bickley to continue and lead the way, Bickley did not find Armadale to his liking last year but this year has seen a massive step forward for the young Cumbrian under the tutelage of Cook with fantastic scoring almost everywhere. With the stepping down of Luke Chessell leading to a 28 day guest facility the Tigers once again turn to Connor Coles for this match after his strong efforts in the Eastbourne double header last weekend. Coles was instrumental in the victory away form home with a 6 point haul and a repeat of this would really put him in the frame for a permanent position.
So the home men's task is simple win and deny the Tigers that semi spot, this task was made all the harder on Wednesday night with Josh's heavy fall in heat 15, reports form the track were this was a frightening looking off and everyone was relieved to hear that Josh escaped relatively unscathed with concussion and some shoulder ligament damage the prognosis, this would appear to mean a couple of weeks rest and with the Monarchs not back in action till the 8th of June away to Leicester there is time for Josh to rest up.
Stepping in for Pickering this week is Monarchs legend Matty Wethers, Wethers is the most experienced man in the league around our track and is enjoying somewhat of a renaissance in form this year. A 2019 average of 7.90 attests to this and of course there is no one better at the tight inside swoop at the Dale than Wethers so hopefully we will see a few of those this week.
The absence of Josh will put additional pressure on the rest though and no doubts this will need to be picked up by the heat leaders. It was another disappointing away performance at Perry Barr during the week with only 3 heat winners again being the Achilles heel, the home form has been different to this though and it is imperative that Ricky, Cameron and Justin maintain there excellent home form so far. Joel had his best home match of the season slast week with a paid 7 score and he will be looking to build on this meanwhile the job of the reserves remains the same with Luke no doubt hoping for a less damaging night for his machinery after another expensive couple of crashes this week. While Willie really needs to start showing the talent and experience he has and turn this into bigger point hauls.
A barn storming derby lies ahead with a heavy Glasgow presence in attendance on the third bend a certainty as they smell blood and travel in expectation of clinching a semi final slot, the job for the Staggs Bar Monarchs riders is simply to win and stop this and the job for the Monarchs fans to cheer even louder than normal and give the guys the lift required.
As always there is only one place to see all the action and that is trackside.
See you there!