Edinburgh MONARCHS’ Premier League title hopes would appear to be hanging by a thread following their dropped home point against Scunthorpe Scorpions at Armadale on Friday.
But today, while co-boss John Campbell insisted Monarchs can still qualify for the Play-Off Final, he warned his riders that they must show more commitment than they have done of late otherwise the team’s bid for late season cup and championship glory is doomed to fail.
He said: “We still have a chance until it’s mathematically impossible, and it’s not mathematically impossible yet. If we pick up six points against Workington Comets home and away this will take us through, and that opportunity is still there.”
Monarchs travel to Workington on Saturday and Campbell admitted: “It is going to be a very difficult match for us, but we’ll have Craig Cook back and he is pretty much a track expert round his former home, I also think Jozsef Tabaka will score points, it’s his type of track as well.”
Although Monarchs scraped home 48-42 against group favourites Scunthorpe, their failure to lift all three match points places them in jeopardy and Campbell was not altogether happy over certain aspects of how his team approached the crunch meeting.
He said: “We saw a very disappointing display from Andrew Tully and Jozsef was probably trying too hard in his middle races, and of course we didn’t have the services of Craig who might easily have scored a maximum.
“I also think the performance from Scunthorpe’s guest rider Sam Masters was beyond belief and it was easily his most impressive score of the season so far. Scunthorpe chose him because he was available in the north, no other reason.
“It’s a pure chance situation with guests whether you get lucky or not, and Scunthorpe certainly did.”
Not for the first time track conditions provoked some debate among the Monarchs squad, with Derek Sneddon observing: “We had asked for dirt on the track and we got it, but with the temperature falling at this time of the year the surface was a bit icy, and you were also hitting patches of deep dirt and this unsettled some of us.
“To be fair it did not unsettle Scunthorpe and perhaps after a long season, fatigue is starting to set in.”
But Campbell was scornful, replying: “I don’t think the track conditions were tricky in any manner. They should just get on and ride, that’s what Matthew (Wethers) did and probably had his best home meeting for many weeks, he showed commitment which others did not.”
Monarchs’ frailty at jetting out of the starts was also exposed, pretty glaringly, by their Scunthorpe rivals who were on a different level. “We need to show more commitment going into the first corner,” added Campbell. “It’s all very well for Andrew to miss the gate because he thinks he can pass everybody, but it would be nice just to get amongst them at the first bend.
“Getting first out of the second corner doesn’t always come about because you are first out of the starting gate, there was a lovely line of dirt on the outside on Friday and anybody who got out on that was a winner, some of our riders must get into that first bend and cannot hang back thinking they will get past opponents.
“It’s an easy excuse to make that the track was to blame, but it comes down to being ready for the job and getting on with it.”
Before Monarchs tackle Workington they need to pull back 20 points against Ipswich Witches on Friday to guarantee their place in the KO Cup final, which represents their best chance of lifting silverware in 2012.
Campbell added: “Ipswich have a lot of average riders and they need one of them to perform well, if they do then we face a very difficult task. We need to be up for the challenge to do our very best, and if we achieve that we’ll qualify for the final, there is no reason why we can’t be 25-5 up after five races providing the commitment is there from the start.”
Meanwhile, Monarchs’ regular reserve guest Byron Bekker broke his leg riding for Dudley Heathens at Mildenhall on Sunday and everybody at Armadale sends their best wishes to the popular South African.