Glasgow Tigers speedway manager Stewart Dickson believes Edinburgh Monarchs will be gunning for his high-flying side when they lock horns in tonight’s Premier League Knockout Cup quarter-final first leg tie at Armadale Stadium.
But Dickson reckons the Tigers are ready to bare their claws for the right to face defending champions Somerset Rebels in the semi-finals.
Glasgow have only made one visit to the Lothian Arena in 2016 when they were narrowly beaten 46-43 in a League Cup group match back in May and Dickson acknowledges Monarchs are now a far more competitive outfit, who are very hard to beat at home.
He said: “We go to any track hoping to win and always believe we can achieve that. I don’t know if that is over-confidence on our part but it’s our game plan.
“Edinburgh are stronger than they were at the start of the season. Young Dan Bewley is coming on for them and Mark Riss is looking good and I think it will be a tough meeting.
“We hope to keep the scores tight and ideally a loss of six points would be fine for us. And I’m sure after we defeated Edinburgh in the league on the telly recently as well as putting them out of the League Cup, they will be gunning for us. That’s the name of the game.”
Both teams will be missing key personnel. Glasgow’s Richie Worrall and Monarchs reserve Max Clegg are riding for Belle Vue and Wolverhampton respectively in the Elite League while injured-hand victim Nike Lunna is also a doubt for the Ashfield outfit.
Clegg will be replaced by Rob Branford, a member of Monarchs’ 2015 title-winning squad, who has been scoring well for Rye House Raiders in the National League. And, crucially, Dickson believes this change could benefit Monarchs.
He said: “No offence to Max but Branford probably strengthens Edinburgh the way Max has been riding. I know Edinburgh lost at home to Berwick at the start of the year but since then they haven’t looked back.”
Glasgow are keen to atone for their shock defeat at Scunthorpe Scorpions last weekend and Dickson emphasised a repeat of that performance won’t be tolerated again.
He said: “We have only won at Scunthorpe once before and that was last season so it has not been a happy hunting ground for us. We simply fell away at Scunthorpe halfway through the meeting and that is something we cannot do tonight.”
Monarchs boss John Campbell had recently suggested that Glasgow do not have enough Armadale experts within their ranks to triumph round the Lothian Arena. Surprisingly, Dickson thinks Campbell may have a point, admitting; “We don’t have Richie now this evening and he is a bit of an expert as he proved there last season. But I think our captain Aaron Summers, who used to ride for Edinburgh, is quite suited to riding Armadale.
“However, Richard Lawson has had indifferent scores. He scored twelve points in our League Cup visit but has also had fours and fives. So John might not be too far away with his viewpoint.”
The big plus for Monarchs right now has been the shift in gear by Californian racer Ryan Fisher, who always relishes the febrile atmosphere of the Scottish derbies.
Fisher is hot after picking up 14 points in that Sky Sports clash against the Tigers and was unbeaten in his first four rides in Monarchs’ 51-39 league victory over Berwick at home two weeks ago.
Fisher was denied a maximum after finishing last in the heat-15 top scorers race, lamenting: “My back mudguard came lose and was rubbing against my back tyre, but I’m happy with my form at the moment. I have put quite a lot into my engines and they are working as I want them to. I’m confident I can score well for the remainder of the season.”
Fisher’s 14-point individual tally in last Friday’s Premier League Pairs Championship at Somerset would appear to give credence to his belief.