Edinburgh Monarchs promoter John Campbell expects tonight’s Championship visit to Redcar Bears to be “difficult” but is hoping his team come away with something to maintain their push for a top-four play-off spot.
Monarchs include Theo Pijper as a replacement for injured German star Mark Riss – expected to be out of action for six weeks with finger injuries following his nasty crash against Ipswich Witches – and Campbell said: “It will be a difficult match for us. Redcar are a lot stronger than they have been for many years. They’ve got Ben Barker doing exceptionally well and Jason Garrity – if he can stay on his bike for four laps – can also do well, so it will be tough.”
Pijper, meanwhile, said: “I’m ready and my equipment is a good as new and I will give it 100 per cent and can hopefully score a few points on my return to the Edinburgh team.”
Monarchs reserve star Mitchell Davey said last week that the Capital side need to “knuckle down” away from home in the wake of their recent 50-39 defeat at Ipswich. Campbell added: ”We try hard at every away track and some are more difficult than others. Our last away match at Ipswich was a tough one and, while Redcar are not quite as good as Ipswich, they are capable round their own track. We need our top three riders to do well tonight. If they do, we are a match for anybody. But it hasn’t happened too often this season so we’ll just wait and see.”
Campbell has publicly stated that unless Monarchs’ heat leader trio win more races between them, they will not win another away match. Does he still stand by that? “Absolutely. I think since then that Erik Riss’s form has improved substantially, and Ricky Wells and Sam Masters have the capabiltiy of doing well, providing they don’t fall off!
“We have got chances anywhere. And there is always the possibility that Josh Pickering will have some very good away meetings, but he’s had some stinkers as well because he lacks experience at some tracks.”
Monarchs are still in a strong position to claim a play-off spot and currently lead the table, although some of their rivals have matches in hand. Campbell insisted: “I think we need to win all our home matches and, if we do that, we should be fine. We will pick up more away points but I don’t think it will be absolutely dependent on it to make the top four.”
Monarchs have dropped just two points at Armadale all season, drawing with local rivals Glasgow Tigers last month. Campbell, however, didn’t think it was a major setback.
“Glasgow are a very good team. They’ve got Armadale track experts now and that will always challenge us. We did very well that night to get a draw and it will be a very tough match when they come back again.”
Monarchs overcame Ipswich 48-40 last Friday to preserve their unbeaten home record and the Monarchs boss reflected: ”If somebody had said to me we would beat Ipswich by eight points before the match I would have said ‘that’s great’.
“I was very pleased with the result. I think the Ipswich manager wound his team up too tightly and they were over trying.”
Heavy drizzle caused problems with the track which led to a spate of fallers on both sides for the second week in a row. Said Campbell: “The drizzle fell at a critical time and turned what looked like the best track of the season into a tricky one.
“It then became a question about whether you were prepared to race or not. There were some who trundled round and looked awful, and others who attacked the track and had no problems at all.”