Edinburgh Monarchs returned to the top of the Premier speedway League last night after a gutsy 50-40 triumph against Sheffield Tigers at Owlerton Stadium.
But their victory was tempered with the loss of Aussie reserve Mitchell Davey who was taken to hospital with a suspected broken leg after coming to grief in the second race.
Davey, who had only recently returned to the saddle after breaking his wrist in June, ran into the back of Tigers guest youngster Oliver Greenwood, and flew over the safety fence, a collision which caused a delay of almost an hour to the match.
Monarchs will have to find a National League replacement for Davey for tonight’s Armadale showdown with Somerset Rebels, who moved into to second spot in the table after Redcar Bears surprisingly lost at home to Leicester Lions.
Monarchs director Mike Hunter said that Davey’s season is now over. “It’s very unfortunate for him and while he had not been scoring a lot of points lately, the rest of the team like him a lot, and he had been showing some signs of better form.
“When he went over the fence you always hope for a soft landing, but obviously this did not happen for Mitchell, and everybody will be feeling for him at this moment in time.”
Skipper Derek Sneddon took over Davey’s remaining rides and turned in a remarkable scoring display with 16 points from seven outings, which encompassed four race victories, and was easily his best ever showing round Sheffield.
Sneddon was involved in two critical 5-1s which helped steer the meeting in Monarchs’ favour. He teamed up with Claus Vissing to grab maximum points in heat five to give the Monarchs a 19-17 lead which they increased to six points by heat 13, but the door was still open for the Tigers to strike back.
However Sneddon and Jozsef Tabaka, who struggled during the early part of the contest, defeated Tigers pair Oliver Greenwood and Andre Compton in the very next race to put Monarchs 47-37 in front, with no way back for a patched up Sheffield side who were still reeling from their 68-23 humbling at Somerset the night before.
Seven rides around the vast Sheffield circuit is not for the faint hearted and Sneddon, despite being delighted that Monarchs bagged all four match points for their fourth away league success of the season, said: “I’m feeling pretty knackered and I’m definitely not driving home, somebody else can do that for me!”
Some electric starts from Monarchs No. 1 Craig Cook saw the Cumbrian ace notch up 14 points from his five starts. His only dropped point occurredoccurred in the opening race when he finished second to Compton. But Cook and team-mate Max Fricke almost ran into each other on the first lap and were lucky not to have brought each other down.
Said Cook: “It was a good win for us, we all got stuck in and did our job, it’s a real shame about Mitchell and we all wish him the best. But we need to carry our away form to Armadale tonight because Somerset is going to be a very tough test, but we beat them I think.”
It was Fricke’s first competitive visit to Sheffield, and although he collected just three points, he got stronger as the match wore on which will stand him in good stead for the future.
Claus Vissing, after picking up five points from his first two rides, ran into ignition problems later on which crippled him, and his six-point return so easily could have been double that.
Sheffield’s best performer was Ricky Wells who scored 15 points, but gave way to Cook twice, and Sneddon once.
Sheffield: Wells 15, Auty 7, North 7, Compton 5, Greenwood 3, Albin 3.
Monarchs: Sneddon 16, Cook 14, Pijper 8, Vissing 6, Fricke 3, Tabaka 3, Davey 0.