Monarchs’ League Cup bid hanging by a thread

Ryan Fisher wins his first race back in Monarchs colours beating Seb Alden and Laim Carr. Picture: Ron MacNeill
Ryan Fisher wins his first race back in Monarchs colours beating Seb Alden and Laim Carr. Picture: Ron MacNeill
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Berwick Bandits pulled off a shock 46-44 League Cup victory against Edinburgh Monarchs at Armadale last night, which leaves the Capital speedway side’s silverware hopes hanging by a thread.

The Bandits have a grim record at Armadale which has been a graveyard for them in the past. But they boast a solid looking side this season and this paid dividends for them as too many of Monarchs’ experienced riders failed to shine when the chips were down.

Monarchs skipper Sam Masters, who romped to a flawless maximum of 15 points, said: “The conditions were far from ideal but it was the same for everybody. Berwick beat us out of the start a few times and it was difficult to come from the back if you missed the start.”

Former Monarch skipper Matthew Wethers said: “This was a great result for the whole Berwick team. We fancied our chances before the start and so it proved. It is such a change to win at Armadale!”

The first four heats were all shared with no-one prepared to risk life or limb in the wet except for Monarchs reserve Max Clegg who was outgated in the second race but wound it on to come from third to first and power past former Wethers and Liam Carr to take the chequered flag in fine style.

But the Bandits then shocked Monarchs in the fifth race when Thomas Jorgensen and another ex-Monarch, Theo Pijper, grabbed a 5-1 over Monarchs German duo Kevin Wolbert and Erik Riss to give them a 17-13 lead. Monarchs fans must have realised at this stage the Bandits were not going to roll over.

Berwick maintained their four-point advantage in heat seven when Kevin Doolan headed Ryan Fisher and Clegg home for a share of the spoils with Monarchs a bit sluggish from the tapes at times.

Monarchs team manager Alex Harkess switched his reserve in heat eight pulling out Dan Bewley, who had failed to score in his first two rides, in favour of the more experienced Clegg as they attempted to get back on level terms with the Bandits. However, the move did not come off as Berwick grabbed a 4-2 win courtesy of Pijper and Carr to move six points clear, 27-21.

Monarchs then recorded their first heat advantage of the night when Riss and Wolbert picked up a 4-2 over Wethers and Seb Alden in heat nine which cut the arrears to just four points.

And the home side repeated the trick in the next race when Monarchs skipper Sam Masters and Clegg outgunned Doolan and Anders Mellgren to leave the Bandits were hanging on by their fingertips 31-29.

But the visitors were certainly not done and Pijper, who proved to be a real thorn in the flesh of his former teammates, and Jorgensen, collected Berwick’s second 5-1 of the match to restore their six-point lead.

Fisher and Masters pulled off a slightly lucky 4-2 in heat 13 to close the gap to just four points again.

But Wethers held off a fierce challenge from Riss in the penultimate race to give Berwick a 3-3 share of the spoils leaving Monarchs needing a 5-1 in the heat 15 top scorers’ race to salvage a draw.

They did not manage it, despite Masters winning the race Doolan claimed second place which was enough to hand the glory to Berwick.

Monarchs: Masters 15, Clegg 9, Wolbert 7, Riss 7, Fisher 6, Etheridge 0, Bewley 0.

Berwick: Doolan 12, Pijper 10, Wethers 9, Jorgensen 6, Alden 6, Carr 3, Mellgren 0.