Monarchs brush off loss of skipper to smash Comets

Derek Sneddon walks off with team manager Alex Harkess. Pic: Ron MacNeill
Derek Sneddon walks off with team manager Alex Harkess. Pic: Ron MacNeill
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Despite losing skipper Derek Sneddon with a back injury, Edinburgh Monarchs maintained their unbeaten start to the season with a comfortable 55-38 win over high flying Workington Comets at Armadale last night, a victory which keeps the capital side at the top of their League Cup qualifying section.

The victory which keeps the speedway aces at the top of their League Cup qualifying section.

Sneddon could be out of action for a few weeks after he tumbled into the fence when he came under pressure from Comets ace Ricky Wells on the third bend in heat three.

He lay on the ground for quite a while but came out for his next ride in the fifth race but fell off on the first turn when he was pushed wide. He withdrew from the meeting after that and revealed he might need to take time off in order to sort out his back problems.

He said: “I have had worries about my back for some time now and after I came off in that first race I think I’ve got a trapped nerve or something. I won’t be riding in tonight’s return match at Workington as the doctor has signed me off until next week at least.

“I really feel that I need some time off in order to sort out my back problems properly because it’s a very long season and I need to be fully fit for the rest of the year.”

With team-mate Aaron Fox failing to score, Monarchs were, in effect, carrying two riders, but once again the reserve pairing of Steve Worrall and Justin Sedgemen stepped up to the mark bagging a handsome 22 points between them.

And their contribution made a huge difference to the eventual scoreline against a Comets squad which looked nothing like potential championship contenders on this form. And the Cumbrian management team will also have been less impressed with heat leader Rene Bach who only picked up four points and failed to win a single race. People have been eulogising about Bach but his performances at Armadale in the past have not always been outstanding.

With Sneddon sidelined it was Max Fricke more than anybody who grabbed the lion’s share of the limelight. And apart from a blip in heat five when he yielded a 5-1 to opponents Mason Campton and Josh Grajczonek, the young Aussie was unbeaten in his other four rides which included a heat 15 top scorers’ revenge win against Grajczonek and his partner Wells.

Fricke was happy with his contribution saying: “Apart from that race when I lost the 5-1, overall I was happy with how I rode.

“I made some good starts and I feel I’m starting to get some consistency from the gate now, especially at home. But I need to do it away from home and I’m working to achieve this.

“I tried out a different engine tonight and I’m making a few changes elsewhere too, so hopefully everything will come together soon.

“It was a really good win for the team especially after losing Derek, but he’ll be back for sure. Workington are a solid team, but perhaps did not ride as well as they know they can. It will be tough at their place this evening.”

Monarchs, who like Workington, had a spate of fallers, only led 25-23 at the halfway point, but a brace of 5-1 advantages in heats ten and 11 put fresh air between the teams and knocked the wind out of the Comets sails to some extent.

Grajczonek came out for a tactical ride in heat 11 which he won, but he didn’t inflict sufficient damage to knock Monarchs off course as the home side cruised over the winning post by winning the last four races.

Grajczonek was Comets’ top scorer on 14 points but lacked solid support from his team-mates with the exception of Wells who snatched eight points.

And while Fox failed to score he was a tad unlucky in the first race when he was on a 5-1 with Craig Cook but slipped back to last place. And the American was harshly excluded in heat eight when Campton locked up in front of him, the referee deeming the Monarchs rider to be a fault.

Sam Masters, however, was not at his best and failed to take the chequered flag which he will deem to be disappointing. At the moment Masters does not look entirely convincing as a heat leader yet. But Cook, who romped to a paid maximum is once again proving he is the man to beat at Armadale this season.

Monarchs suffered a floodlight failure before the last race, and Workington will definitely feel the lights went out on them.

Monarchs: Cook 14, Fricke 13, Worrall 12, Sedgemen 10, Masters 6, Sneddon 0, Fox 0.

Workington:- Grajczonek 14, Wells 8, Campton 5, Bach 4, Morris 3, Howarth 3, Mills 1.