Glasgow Tigers don’t stand a chance of winning tonight’s vital Premier League derby clash with Edinburgh – says Monarchs cheif John Campbell.
Campbell doesn’t think Tigers have enough riders in their ranks capable of conquering Armadale. And he is confident Monarchs will defy the odds to keep them on course for a play-off position and the chance of winning the Premier League crown for a third time in a row.
The Tigers, who have had a week off to prepare for this showdown, may feel they have the edge over their hosts given they are second in the table behind leaders Peterborough Panthers – and a massive eight places above Monarchs.
But Campbell thinks Monarchs have quality where it counts and whatever the outcome it won’t define their season as some have suggested.
He said: “We have still got most of the season left to go and I expect us to win. I will be disappointed if we don’t because we have the capability of doing exactly that. Glasgow don’t have Armadale track experts in their side and we do.”
Glasgow are tipped by a number of pundits to land the league title this year but they have lacked champion class on occasions, especially away from the confines of Ashfield, and Campbell added: “Glasgow certainly believed they would have a top four who would dominate everywhere and they haven’t done that so far.
“They certainly don’t have a Sam Masters in their team that’s for sure and they haven’t got a Kevin Wolbert in their team either.”
However, Tigers have called on Berwick’s Aussie ace Kevin Doolan as a guest replacement for recent new signing Rene Bach who is riding in a Danish League match – Doolan is certainly a threat.
He is going well this season and scored 12 points for Berwick at Armadale in April which helped the Border side defeat Monarchs 46-44 in the League Cup, Monarchs’ only competitive home defeat of 2016.
And Doolan could hit double figures again which might swing the outcome in Glasgow’s favour especially as Bach has never rated Armadale as one of his favourite tracks and has suffered his fair share of bad meetings there in the past.
The key battle could revolve around the reserve combatants with Glasgow operating the rider replacement facility for injured Finn Nike Lunna.
Their tail enders Fernando Garcia and Danny Ayres could potentially get 11 rides between them to cover for Lunna.
Campbell said: “Glasgow’s reserves will feature in ten of the 15 heats, so one of them will need to perform well to give them a chance and I don’t think they have that individual.”
Richie Worrall is also eligible for an extra ride.
Monarchs will place their faith in skipper Masters and Wolbert to try and deliver victory but much could depend on what Ryan Fisher does, the Californian finding double figures quite hard to come by.
“Sam and Kevin were terrific at Plymouth last weekend,” Campbell said. “And generally they have been terrific and are dominant characters at Armadale. Sam is also dominant in the Premier League.
“It’s a fantastic situation to have two very good riders in our team and is a great help in any match at home.”
Monarchs need to nail the Tigers otherwise their hopes of a play-off berth could recede rapidly. However, Campbell believes he has a secret weapon in the shape of recent signing Mark Riss.
He said: “I’m just waiting for the race which makes Mark look almost as good as his younger brother Erik. And that race is coming soon and when that happens we will have a top five as good as anyone’s in the league.
“Mark clearly has a belief that he can do better than he is doing at the moment. He needs to be competitive into the first corner but that is coming with every race he completes.”
Asked if he feels Glasgow will be twitchy about this evening, Campbell replied: “Every team always has a list of away matches they think are winnable.
“I’m sure Glasgow have Armadale on their list because their big away support want to see them win here.
“I’m not sure it will happen, there are other venues more suited to their efforts without question.”
The other thing Campbell is looking for is a boost in attendances as he admitted crowd levels are down this year.
“It is easy to blame the weather and I would love to get a run of dry Fridays with some sunshine just to see if our fans are going to turn out or whether they have lost interest.
“We are not in crisis but we do need our crowds to be bigger and for that to happen we need good weather.”