Edinburgh Monarchs will clinch their Premier League play-off qualification spot providing they take all three points against Glasgow Tigers in tonight’s high-stakes speedway derby clash at Armadale Stadium.
Glasgow are second in the table and want to stay there to be seeded direct into the play-off semi finals, so victory is a must for them and they also need to secure a win at Workington Comets tomorrow night otherwise they could be overhauled, most probably by Newcastle Diamonds, who have matches in hand.
Monarchs, who have still to race leaders Somerset Rebels and fellow top-six aspirants Peterborough Panthers, will need to demonstrate a harder edge to defeat their Ashfield rivals in the wake of a poor showing against them in their KO Cup quarter-final second leg tie at the Lothian Arena two weeks ago. Although Monarchs triumphed 48-41 on the night they failed miserably to exert any pressure on Glasgow who sailed into the last four after holding a massive lead of 24 points from the first leg.
Monarchs co-promoter John Campbell knows his team must ride to their strengths this time. He said: “I can’t put my finger on why we did not ride as well as we can do on that last occasion, it was just one of those nights. But I have no doubt if we win by more than seven we will take all three match points and we will be in the play-offs – anything can happen after that.”
Dan Bewley has pulled out of tonight’s fixture feeling he is not yet fully fit after his heavy tumble at Newcastle Diamonds. Monarchs are seeking a replacement.
The young Englishman had to take a nine-day sabbatical after he was concussed in a crash on Tyneside which interrupted a golden run of form.
Another concern for Monarchs is the questionable fitness of heat leader Ryan Fisher who is riding with broken bones in his foot following a recent and nasty pile-up at Somerset. But Campbell revealed the Californian places a low priority on personal injury. “Ryan will not be 100 per cent for the rest of the season because you don’t cure broken bones by continually walking or riding speedway. He’ll be feeling that foot for sure. He was involved in one or two incidents on Friday but he came out of them safely. When I asked him how he was at the end of the double-header he started talking about his engine instead! I told him I wasn’t asking about his engine I’m asking about your foot. But that’s how he is he rides on regardless.”
The Monarchs boss confirmed that the partnership of brothers Mark and Erik Riss will continue for now. “I thought Mark was more confident last Friday although not necessarily about riding with his brother.
“But getting a couple of races to look at the track before going out with Erik definitely helped him and that is why we are keeping them together this evening.”
Team-mate Max Clegg, who was accidentally wiped out by Mark Riss in the penultimate heat of their clash against Redcar after scoring a best-ever 14 points in the Premier League, believes the Tigers will not be playing safe as they did to protect their lead in that KO Cup encounter.
Clegg, who passed a fitness test to turn out for Elite League Wolverhampton Wolves on Monday and scored three points as they beat Poole Pirates, said: “I think it will be a completely different match altogether and we need to score as many points as we can against them – it won’t be easy. We know we did not ride at our best in the cup fixture and need to do much better now because Glasgow have riders who go well round Armadale.”
Glasgow arrive on the back of a convincing 62-30 mauling of Sheffield Tigers at Ashfield on Sunday and will for certain scent victory over their oldest adversaries. In fact, Glasgow are going for a trophy treble this season to emulate Edinburgh’s glittering achievement of two years ago.