Monarchs’ Knockout Cup bid left hanging by a thread

Fernado Garcia, Max Clegg, Richard Lawson and Kevin Wolbert get underway in heat six
Fernado Garcia, Max Clegg, Richard Lawson and Kevin Wolbert get underway in heat six
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If Edinburgh Monarchs want to make the Premier League Knockout Cup semi-finals, they are going to have to do it the hard way.

They were mauled 54-30 by Glasgow Tigers in yesterday’s quarter-final first leg tie at Ashfield Stadium, which was abandoned with one race left due to heavy rain. The result stands.

The Tigers, even in the wet, looked far hungrier than Monarchs, who will have to produce something special in the return leg at Armadale on August 26 if they want to face Somerset Rebels in the last four.

Monarchs senior reserve Max Clegg said: “It was a disappointing result and the weather did not help. The track changed from one condition to the complete opposite, it wasn’t ideal. It is a lot we have to pull back at Armadale but stranger things have happened before in speedway and I’m sure all the boys are up for the second leg.”

With no tactical rides allowed in cup competitions, it was imperative that Monarchs got off to a strong start. They did by sharing the opening race, which was won by Tigers’ No.1 Richard Lawson, but with Mark Riss and skipper Sam Masters shutting out Fernando Garcia Monarchs grabbed a 3-3.

Tigers then struck in the next race when guest Luke Chessell and Nike Lunna pinched a 5-1 over Monarchs tailenders Clegg and Dan Bewley, who had been on fire against Sheffield Tigers at Armadale on Friday.

And Monarchs sank further into trouble by surrendering two 4-2s on the trot to leave them trailing 19-11 after just five races. Glasgow made it a trio of 4-2s in heat six when Lawson defeated Kevin Wolbert who, despite making a superb start, was passed exiting the second bend and, with Garcia claiming the important third spot over Clegg, Tigers now led by ten.

And the golden run of 4-2s for Glasgow showed no sign of abating when they grabbed another in the seventh heat, Lunna winning a cracking race against Ryan Fisher, who just held out Tigers captain Aaron Summers for second who was snapping at his heels. The Tigers were baring their claws, surging ahead 27-15 despite the best efforts of Monarchs to put the brakes on their hosts.

Monarchs had a window of opportunity to post their first heat advantage of the match in the ninth race after Tigers ace Richie Worrall was excluded for going through the tapes and was replaced by Lunna in the rerun, but Tigers grabbed their fifth 4-2 of the afternoon when Rene Bach defeated Wolbert with Lunna beating Clegg for third place.

Monarchs were 34-20 behind and with rain falling track conditions had become very greasy indeed. Monarchs at least stopped Tigers’ avalanche of 4-2s in heat 10 when Erik Riss bagged his first win to salvage a 3-3 share of the spoils.

Tigers were rushing through proceedings now with the rain still coming down and they powered to a 5-1 in heat 11, Summers and Lunna easily outpacing Mark Riss, who pulled off the track on the second bend leaving Masters to tootle round in his own time.

Glasgow’s fans were in full voice as their side led 42-24 with Monarchs seemingly 
unable to respond.

Referee Jim McGregor then called a ten-minute delay to see if the weather improved – which it did – but Monarchs’ woes did not as Erik Riss was excluded for delaying the start in heat 12 and had to begin from 15 metres back. 
However, Monarchs managed to share the rerun, but were 45-27 
behind.

Another 4-2 loss in the next, however, plunged Monarchs 20 points down, 49-29, then the Tigers delivered the final killer blow with a 5-1 in heat 14 before the meeting was abandoned with one race left.

It is a result Monarchs will not look back on with any fondness with their top four winning just two races between them.

Glasgow: Lunna 13, Lawson 11, Worrall 8, Summers 8, Bach 8, Chessell 4, Garcia 2.

Monarchs: Fisher 6, Masters 6, Wolbert 6, M Riss 4, E Riss 4, Clegg 3, Bewley 1.