Action from Dan Gilkes Image Credit: Chris Simpson

Monarchs March On

REPORT Wednesday 29th September 2021, 9:43pm

by Graham Muncie

The What the Fork Monarchs are through to the semi finals of the KO cup after victory at Birmingham on Wednesday night.

The Monarchs held an 18 point lead from the first leg but not only did they defend this cushion but romped over the line winning by 10 points on the night 50-40 to win 104-76 on aggregate.

On a track where passing was at an absolute premium it was the Armadale men who led from the start more often than not with captain Sam Masters and Josh Pickering each in blistering form recording full maximums.

Jubilant team boss John Campbell saying after "It was a great performance, even if we didn't gate first we rode harder into the first corner and that was where it was won. Having 2 riders score maximums makes it so much easier and they were superb. I felt the track was 100x better than when we were down in the league 2 weeks ago and that made it better for us and worse for them.

"It's been a great night not only to get through but to win sets us up really nicely for the weeks to come, the only downside was Anders (Rowe) felt pain in his knee again so we will need to keep an eye on that for Friday. I also have to say thanks to Dan Gilkes who was an excellent guest."

Having been defeated at the same venue by 14 points a fortnight ago the thoughts in the Monarchs camp were progression would not be an easy task and work still had to be done and they set to their task immediately taking the chequered flag in 3 of the first 4 races and with 2 of these wins being maximum heat advantages an 8 point lead on the night and 24 point lead overall had been built up and there would be no way back for the hosts.

The teams would exchange further maximums in heats 8 through 10, 2 of the 3 to the Brummies allowing the home men to cut the deficit to 4 but this would be as close as they would get as with Masters, Pickering, Richie Worrall and Kye Thomson all being paid for at least 2 wins each the Monarchs had a strong presence in practically every heat.

The tie was mathematically over by the end of heat ten Pickering and Thomson's 3rd heat advantage of the match and at this stage the only thing left to wonder was if the Monarchs would run out victors on the night as well.

Pickering again made sure of this winning the penultimate heat and with Dan Gilkes who did an excellent job as a guest at reserve picking up third the win on the night was secured.

This meant the only real drama going into the last race was to see if Pickering could complete his full house, Masters deciding to give it a miss meaning that pairing of Pickering and Thomson were matched again. This time the Monarchs would miss the gate as Birmingham number 1 Chris Harris led the way. The Aussie was not to be denied though powering through on the second lap to complete his max.

So, a rousing victory for the Monarchs that sets them up well for the Playoff Quarter Final clashes against Redcar this weekend and with the knowledge there is now a cup semi final against Glasgow to come also.

For the hosts it was an emotional night with club owners David and Peter Mason recently announcing they would be walking away at seasons end and with no buyers currently forthcoming this could be the last we see of the Midland's outfit for the foreseeable future. All at the Monarchs hope this is not the case and wish them all the best in coming to tapes in 2022.