NEWS Wednesday 10th July 2019, 8:46pm
A great weekend of Speedway is in prospect as the Staggs Bar Monarchs and the Newcastle Diamonds lock horns on Friday and Sunday, aiming for a place in the Championship Knockout Cup final.
With Josh Pickering returning the Monarchs will be at full strength for the first time for a good few weeks. Newcastle strengthened their team this week by introducing experienced Ulrich Ostergaard for his much less experienced fellow Dane Jacob Bukhave, but while that is a considerable step up, they have suffered the loss of both Lasse Bjerre (7 day illness break) and Thomas Jorgensen (injury).
Nevertheless with former Monarchs' title winners Steve Worrall, Matthew Wethers and Max Clegg in their lineup the Diamonds represent a major hurdle and it should be an extremely close contest. One effect of the introduction of Ostergaard is to push Clegg down to reserve and he could be highly effective in that role given his excellent form this season.
The winners of the two-leg tie will race either Eastbourne or Redcar in the final.
Team manager Alex Harkess said "The history books show how many tremendous cup ties we have had with Newcastle over the years. We will all be able to relate to how much happened in these ties and how close they can be. The first leg doesn't decide anything because very often the second leg will completely overturn expectations.
"The main thing for us will be to have a full team for both legs. We beat them on aggregate in the Shield matches but that doesn't mean a lot as teams have changed since then, and we've not been doing terribly well ourselves.
"It would be a great boost for us in a difficult season to find ourselves in a cup final."
Friday 12th July: Staggs Bar Monarchs v Newcastle BTS Diamonds KO Cup semi Final, Armadale, 7:30pm
STAGGS BAR MONARCHS: Ricky Wells (capt.), Victor Palovaara, Josh Pickering, Joel Andersson, Cameron Heeps, William Lawson, Connor Coles.
NEWCASTLE BTS DIAMONDS: Steve Worrall (capt.), rider replacement for Thomas Jorgensen, Coty Garcia (guest), Matthew Wethers, Ulrich Ostergaard, Max Clegg, Danny Phillips.
Following the senior match is a Northern Junior League fixture Dale Devils v Newcastle Gems.
Sunday 14th July: Newcastle v Staggs Bar Monarchs (Cup semi 2nd leg, 6:30pm.