Edinburgh MONARCHS are still unbeaten, but only just, after a nailbiting Premier League speedway encounter against Ipswich Witches at Foxhall Heath last night.
Monarchs clung on for a 45-45 draw which earned them two match points, keeping them at the top of the table, with the improving Suffolk outfit stalking them in second position.
But today Monarchs co- promoter John Campbell claimed two refereeing rulings cost his side an outright 14th triumph in a row. While he was generally content with the outcome, he revealed: “After the meeting I went round the whole team and told them they had done very well, but the reaction was one of disappointment as they felt they should have won.
“I think we should have won as well, but the decisions which went against us, which other referees might have given us, proved critical at the end of the day. However the riders tried very hard and we still came away with two points to Ipswich’s one and that’s a good result.”
Campbell was unhappy with Barbara Horley after the official excluded Justin Sedgmen in heat eight for allegedly bringing down Witches’ American star Gino Manzares. Sedgmen commented: “It wasn’t my fault, I was nowhere near him.”
And Campbell was angered by a pivotal heat 13 skirmish when Sam Masters was disqualified after tumbling off, the Monarchs gaffer being in no doubt that Witches No 1 Richie Worrall was culpable for the clash, saying: “Sam was knocked off, he did not fall off. Richie Worrall is a hard man who takes no prisoners.”
And when Masters’ partner Craig Cook, who was warned for jumping the start, was kept at the back by Worrall and Rohan Tungate in the second rerun of the race, this precious 5-1 advantage edged Ipswich 40-38 in front, with the capital side staring defeat in the face for the first time this season.
However Steve Worrall, who outscored his twin brother on the night, and captain Derek Sneddon conjured up a magical 5-1 of their own in the very next race, giving Monarchs a two-point lead at 43-41 with one race to go.
But Cook, who was off gate two in the heat 15 showdown, the worst starting position throughout the meeting, was beaten again by Richie Worrall and with team-mate Tungate pinching third place, the resultant 4-2 rescued Ipswich and left Monarchs with a feeling that they allowed the match to slip through their fingers.
Campbell said: “ We are doing so well and every match is winnable and we came very close.
“I’m not being critical of Craig but he wins heat 15 in almost every match and had he done so again on this occasion, we would have won the meeting.
“But Ipswich on the evidence of this form will not lose to anybody else at home in the league, although they don’t always maintain their form. But they were very good and are getting pretty strong.
“To leave with two match points is a very positive thing from our point of view and we have to be satisfied with that.”
Worrall was Monarchs’ top scorer with 14 points but even he felt slightly disconsolate at the way Ipswich pulled things out of the fire at the end.
“We definitely should have won,” he said. “But a couple of things went against us which cost us the match. I suppose getting a draw was okay but knowing we should have won makes it feel worse.”
The St Helens-born rider, who scored an 18-point maximum for his National League side Cradley earlier in the week, was not downcast about his personal contribution, insisting: “I rode pretty well I think, and did my job.”
He added: “I knew we had to get a 5-1 back in heat 14 after losing one in the previous race. I didn’t look back, I just stuck my head down for four laps and when I crossed the line and saw Derek in second I felt a lot better because I knew we had a chance of winning.
“We didn’t quite do it, and we felt a bit cheated, but a draw is better than losing.”
Monarchs entertain Glasgow Tigers at Armadale tonight, which on paper should be a straightforward victory task for them. “Hopefully” said Worrall.
Ipswich: Tungate 11, Risager 10, R. Worrall 9, Manzares 9, Heeps 2, Ellis 2, Hawkins 2.
Monarchs: S. Worrall 14, Cook 11, Fricke 6, Sneddon 5, Masters 5, Sedgmen 4, Fox 0.