Edinburgh Monarchs travel to Redcar Bears tonight seeking their first Premier League points of the season and revenge for the League Cup double which the Teessiders pulled off against the Capital squad earlier in the season.
While neither club has lived up to expectations so far, according to captain Matthew Wethers, Monarchs are at last beginning to show signs of their latent potential.
That manifested itself this week when they reached the quarter-finals of the Knockout Cup, ousting Rye House Rockets with a thundering 28-point home leg win at Armadale, rendering the return tie at Hoddesdon a near formality.
The Rockets won their own leg 49-41, but Monarchs cruised through by 20 points on aggregate and Wethers said: “ I thought Rye House would be a little bit tougher, but after our big win at home we felt comfortable about getting through. I thought we rode well and that’s something we haven’t done too often this season.
“We have struggled to find consistency, but on a night when we all get going, we are unbeatable.
“Our aim in the deciding leg was to keep it close and that’s all we needed to do. As long as we weren’t getting 5-1s against we’d be okay, and that’s how it turned out.
“I think things are coming together, not just for me, but for the whole team, and we are all pulling together making us a strong side.
“Charles [Wright] and Micky [Dyer], our two reserves, got points in both matches and as long as they continue to do that and meet their averages, that helps ease the strain on the others above them.”
Wethers has been in the scoring doldrums but senses his fortunes are starting to change.
“Probably I have struggled the most this year and it’s been very frustrating,” he said. “It’s been hard to find consistency, partly due to rain-offs, but I feel I have improved on my form from the start of the season.
“It’s been basically down to machine problems. I bought new frames but they were bent. I didn’t realise that because they were new and thought the problems lay elsewhere.
“I scored nine at home on Friday and was reasonably happy with how I rode.”
Monarchs now face Glasgow Tigers in the quarter-finals which should provide a financial boost for both clubs. Said Wethers: “I did prefer it when Glasgow got through against Plymouth because it’s a long trip down there!
“But sometimes if you think beforehand that you would like to meet this team, or that team, you can set yourself up for disappointment if it doesn’t turn out the way you want. Now we know it’s Glasgow we will just take it as it comes and do what we can. It’s certainly not praying on my mind that things haven’t gone our way at Ashfield recently. As long as we’re all scoring points, we should be all right.”
For now, Monarchs are focused on lifting themselves off the foot of the table and perhaps their trip to Redcar is a timely one. The Bears have suffered a tranche of injuries and are currently without their No. 1, Ulrich Ostergaard. Team-mates Carl Wilkinson and Max Dilger have also been in the wars.
Wethers is hopeful Monarchs can pick up some reward. He said: “If we take a point we will be happy with that. I don’t think it is going to be easy and we have to make sure we don’t drop any silly points.
“I quite like the Redcar circuit. It’s good as long as you make some decent starts, although it is not the best passing track in the league, but it’s the same for everyone.
“I definitely think we have started to ride better and our confidence is up from earlier in the year.”
The biggest danger to Monarchs this evening will be former Armadale favourite Aaron Summers who is flourishing this season and holding the Bears together like glue.