Image Credit: Jack Cupido

Monarchs Look To Quell Resurgent Redcar

PREVIEW Friday 14th June 2024, 10:00am

by Jim Milton

  Edinburgh Monarchs

At last, the Stellar Edinburgh Monarchs have got their 2024 campaign up and running, and in some spectacular style too.

With their place in the semi-finals of the BSN Series already secured with that excellent victory over Glasgow at Armadale, Oxford visited the same venue last Friday clearly intent on preventing their hosts clocking up their first Championship points on the board.

And how close they came to achieving that goal…

But by the end of 15 absolutely scintillating heats of real edge-of-the-seat speedway, the Monarchs edged it by just two points, thanks in no small part to the returning Josh Pickering whose breathtaking heroics at the death were something to behold.

The slender nature of Edinburgh's win may have meant no aggregate bonus point - Oxford having previously triumphed by a far more handsome margin on home shale - but few in the blue and gold camp would have minded too much. Breaking their points duck was the important thing all things considered.

As expected, Cheetahs Masters and Nicholls proved to be the major flies in the Edinburgh ointment although the Australian's countrymen and fellow ex-Monarchs, Cameron Heeps and Jacob Hook also put their former side through some anxious times.

But the West Lothian outfit held their nerve stubbornly over the 15 heats during which they never once fell behind yet only fleetingly extender their lead beyond a couple of points.

And remarkably, it was those same two pints that separated the sides going into that final heat.

Sedgmen, Pickering, Masters, Nicholls. This is what the sport of speedway is all about. A 3-3 would win it for the Monarchs but a Cheetahs' 5-1 would send them home with the points, while a 4-2 in favour of the visitors would force a potentially season-defining super heat.

And what a climax to the evening Heat 15 turned out to be. Sedgy takes the lead before retiring. Oxford look certain to have it in the bag before Joshie takes over with a jaw-dropping rush to take the flag before two flabbergasted Cheetahs.

Sheer magic!

Armadale is without action this Friday although the Monarchs continue their quest to climb up the Championship table with an away fixture against the Agilia Redcar Bears in Middlesbrough.

It looks to be another tough challenge although taking something from meetings like this will be vital if we are to maintain consistency and challenge for a play-off place.

Despite of being able to boast a line-up that includes Danny King, Charles Wright and recent signing Dan Gilkes, the Bears, like ourselves, populate placed at the wrong end of the Championship table having won just two of their opening eight fixtures.

A resurgence may be in the offing, however, and with the likes of Jason Edwards, Connor Bailey, Ben Trigger and Jake Mulford on hand to support their heat leaders, it's clear returning north off the back of a positive result won't be possible without a real team effort on our part.

However, the spirit in the camp is undoubtedly strong and having run Berwick and Poole close and taken that super heat victory at Ashfield the Monarchs will travel with confidence.

One man who is missing sadly is Max James who is still recovering from a broken rib, Dayle Wood stepping in looking to build on an excellent showing at NDL level at the same arena 7 days ago where Mulford was among the riders he bested on his way to a 14 point haul.

BSN are in town for this one with live updates also available on the Monarchs website throughout.