Edinburgh Monarchs have virtually sealed their place in the League Cup speedway final after a resounding 63-28 win over Sheffield Tigers in a one-sided semi-final first leg clash at Armadale last night.
After thrashing Glasgow Tigers at home in the league a week ago, the last thing Monarchs supporters wanted was another contest that nobody will be eulogising about any time soon, but Sheffield were a virtual one-man team and had it not been for the ten points from their No. 1 Simon Stead heaven knows what the final scoreline might have been.
Three Monarchs riders were all unbeaten as they revelled in a points bonanza that will earn them fat wage packets again. Craig Cook stormed to a paid 15 point maximum, and teammates Justin Sedgmen and Steve Worrall chalked up paid 18 point maximums.
Worrall, who had scored 14 points for his Elite League side Swindon Robins on Thursday evening, will soon need Securicor to ferry his wages home to him. Sedgmen was highly impressive, the young Aussie gated supremely well and pulled off a trio of race wins that were all thoroughly deserved.
But he thought Sheffield would have bared their claws to a more convincing degree, saying: “I thought they would have ridden a lot better than they actually did. Simon Stead carried their whole team. But we rode really well again and it’s not often you get three guys in the same team who are all unbeaten by the opposition.”
Sedgmen alluded to the fact that he was razor sharp out of the gate, revealing: “I thought I gated well against Glasgow last week too, and I simply carried that momentum into this meeting, I felt really good and enjoyed myself out there.”
Agreeing that the second leg at Sheffield’s Owlerton Stadium on June 19 has been killed stone dead, Sedgmen added: “If we lose this lead down there we should all be sacked. We have four heat leaders in our team to be honest and that makes winning matches really easy for us right now.”
However Sedgmen rejected the notion that Monarchs would like to undergo more of a challenge at Armadale in future weeks.
“No we don’t want anybody coming here and doing that! We just want to keep on winning, it means more money for us all.”
In seeing off their Yorkshire visitors Monarchs stretched their unbeaten run to 17 matches and, one wonders, when or if this amazing spell will be broken.
Monarchs led 40-15 after nine races with the match done and dusted at this point. From an entertainment point of view it was poor fare with a lot of races very processional, one of the few highlights occurred in heat eight when Sam Masters and Worrall produced team riding of superb quality to defeat Stead and Simon Nielsen. Sheffield handed Stead and Andre Compton tactical outings in a vain effort to stem the Monarchs tide, but it was to no avail as the Tigers were drowned by the sheer ferocity of the home side’s solid scoring and while Sheffield were weak opposition, few other sides could have handled Monarchs in this mood.
While Stead ploughed a lone furrow for Sheffield, he did receive a slight semblance of support from Compton and Leigh Lanham who pitched in with six points apiece. However, Lanham conceded afterwards that their League Cup adventure is almost over.
He said: “Anything is possible but it is going to be very difficult for us in the second leg. Edinburgh are showing they are a fantastic team this year, they haven’t slipped up once apart from a draw at Ipswich.
“I personally like Armadale as a track but I had a poor match and it is so difficult against Edinburgh who are on fire.
“Anything can happen in speedway but we face an extremely difficult task to rescue our hopes.”
Monarchs skipper Derek Sneddon was a bit below par and only managed six points from his five outings. The Falkirk star also made an extremely rash challenge on Stead on the fourth bend in heat five, but Stead stayed upright and full credit to him for that. That was the only incident which left a slightly bitter taste in the mouth.
Monarchs recruited Max Clegg to replace the injured Aaron Fox at reserve, and he picked up a single point in the second race when he kept Ryan McDonald back in fourth spot.
Monarchs are poised to meet Peterborough Panthers or Workington Comets in the final, whoever it is will face a gargantuan challenge to put the brakes on this free scoring Monarchs squad.
Monarchs: Worrall 17, Sedgmen 15, Cook 14, Masters 10, Sneddon 6, Clegg 1.
Sheffield: Stead 10, Compton 6, Lanham 6, Nielsen 4, Poole 2, McDonald 0.