The trend for Berwick Bandits to hold their own against Edinburgh Monarchs at Shielfield Park but flounder at Armadale continued last night.
Monarchs were almost on auto pilot as they steered to a comfortable 57-32 Premier League speedway victory which keeps them in with a chance of topping the table before the commencement of the play-offs next month.
That would allow Monarchs first pick of their group opponents and they would almost certainly plump for Berwick, confident that they would prevail against their border rivals on aggregate over two legs.
But Monarchs still have much work to do before then and they suffered a blow early on in the match when reserve Aaron Fox, who was making his comeback from injury, was forced to withdraw from the meeting after collecting two points from his first ride.
The American is believed to have aggravated a shoulder injury sustained in the recent televised league encounter at Berwick and could be sidelined for a further spell.
However Monarchs did not allow Fox’s misfortune to throw them off kilter and their victory was a very straightforward affair.
The Bandits were desperate to improve upon their 67-23 KO Cup drubbing at the Lothian Arena a few weeks ago. This they managed, to a degree, but at no stage was it ever conceivable that they were poised to pull off a major shock.
Berwick’s secret weapon at the moment is their reserve ace Matej Kus who conjures up double-figure scores everywhere, except at Armadale. He scored five points at the tail end and his failure to shine was a self-inflicted hammer blow and the loss of a springboard that could have propelled Berwick to better things had he proved more productive.
As it was, Monarchs had the meeting virtually in the bag when they led 32-16 after eight heats. Berwick threw in Kevin Doolan and Steen Jensen for tactical outings in heats seven and nine respectively. But Monarchs crushed Berwick’s hopes by picking up 5-1 advantages in both races and that really spelled the end for the Bandits.
Jensen to be fair, after struggling in his first two rides, blossomed by winning his next two, including victory over Monarchs No.1 Craig Cook in the tenth race.
Cook once more struggled for points and is toiling to get out of the gate quickly enough, and this is leaving him to fend like mad to weave his way through traffic. He finished on eight points from his four rides but for the second week in a row at home did not feature in the heat 15 top scorers’ race. Not something that Cook, or the fans, are used to witnessing.
With Cook in the doldrums team-mate Sam Masters grabbed the spotlight with some aplomb. The Aussie stormed to his second paid maximum in succession on his second engine after blowing his top motor. He said: “My second engine is working pretty well right now and I’m delighted to have notched up another paid maximum. It would be nice if I can keep this vein of form going until the end of the season.”
Steve Worrall was also among the points, scoring 12 from his five starts. “It was a pretty convincing win for us, and I always thought it would be. Berwick seem to struggle at Armadale, but to be truthful Armadale is a hard track to ride.
“I was happy with my own display, I hadn’t been feeling that good in my last couple of matches, but feel okay now and had no problems.”
Berwick team manager John Anderson was almost resigned to his team’s fate and admitted: “We improved a little on our last visit, but it’s still not good enough really. I hate to say it but Armadale is a track you’ve got ride every week to have a chance of conquering. But Edinburgh are a very good side and walk over everybody at home, not just us. We just have to accept defeat, end of story.”
Former Monarch Claus Vissing had a miserable night for Berwick with just three points to show for his efforts.
Anderson added: “On a night when Craig Cook failed to get double figures for Monarchs, we did not capitalise on that fact which was a bit disappointing because it does not happen that often.”
Monarchs: Masters 14, Worrall 12, Fricke 9, Cook 8, Sedgemen 7, Sneddon 5, Fox 2.
Berwick: Doolan 9, Jensen 7, Edberg 5, Kus 5, Bellego 3, Vissing 3.