Monarchs rue luck as Cook leaves track in wheelchair

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A SERIES of electrical failures and a huge crowd waiting to get in caused a big delay to last night’s Premier League speedway clash between Plymouth Devils and Edinburgh Monarchs.

And when power was eventually restored to the St Boniface Arena, sadly it was Monarchs who remained switched off. For despite leading by six points after just five heats, Monarchs finally went down 50-43

To be fair, Monarchs will claim there was mitigating circumstances which contributed to their loss. Heat leader ace Craig Cook, who is having no luck at the moment, tumbled off in heat four and had to withdraw from the meeting. Cook hurt his foot as he ploughed into the fence and after being attended to by medical staff, was taken off the track in a wheelchair for further care.

The Cumbria-based rider is now a major doubt for Monarchs trip to Newport Wasps tonight and will also probably miss the clash against his former team Workington Comets at Derwent Park on Sunday.

After sharing the first two races, Monarchs made a big breakthrough in the next heat when Andrew Tully and skipper Matthew Wethers, who was making his comeback from injury, grabbed a 5-1 against Gino Franchetti and Paul Starke to sneak into a handy 11-7 lead.

And this was stretched to six points following a 4-2 from Kevin Wolbert and Kalle Katajisto in the fifth race. But the Devils, who have won their last eight home meetings, sparked into life and notched up a 5-1 in heat six courtesy of Ben Barker and Ritchie Hawkins.

With further maximum advantages in heats seven and ten, the Devils wiped out their early deficit, and when they picked up a 4-2 in heat 12, they led comfortably 40-32, Monarchs spurning the opportunity to close the gap in the previous heat when Katajisto fell with the capital side on a 4-2.

But Monarchs weren’t quite done yet and pulled off a tactical 8-1 win in heat fourteen from Wethers and Adam Royon which put them just three points adrift. However a 5-1 from unbeaten Barker and Ricky Wells in a rerun last race after Wethers flopped off at the first time of asking, sealed the Devils ninth win in succession on their own track.

Monarchs co-boss John Campbell said: “It was a big blow to lose Craig because I’m sure he would have scored a lot of points on a circuit he likes. We were on a 5-1 when he crashed and it just became too difficult for us after that.”

Plymouth: Barker 15, Wells 12, Cockle 11, Hawkins 8, Franchetti 3, Starke 1.

Monarchs: Wethers 10, Wolbert 10, Roynon 9, Katajisto 6, Tully 5, Webster 3, Cook 0