Plymouth Devils proved to be anything but troublesome menaces at Armadale last night as Edinburgh Monarchs swept to a comfortable 55-41 Premier League speedway victory which lifted the Capital outfit off the foot of the table and puts them in fine heart for tonight’s return clash at the St Boniface Arena.
In truth Plymouth were a two-man team and without the efforts of Ben Barker and former Monarchs favourite Ryan Fisher they could easily have been whitewashed.
A sizeable crowd turned out to see the return of Fisher and while the Californian won two races, including a double-point tactical outing in heat 9, the colourful racer seemed to lack a bit of sparkle and was more low key than spectacular.
Teammate Barker, who also won his tactical ride, was the Devils’ top scorer with 16 points and made a blinder of a start to the match when he headed home Monarchs No. 1 Craig Cook in the opening race.
Cook however got his revenge when he defeated his lively rival in heat 13. The rest of the Plymouth squad were frankly a bit disappointing, none more so than new skipper Corey Gathercole who didn’t appear to be that interested in proceedings and only picked up two points from his four starts.
Monarchs, who are the only side to remain unbeaten in the league at home, turned in a very solid scoring display and stand in-reserve James Sarjeant did remarkably well to notch up five points which included an excellent victory in heat two. His partner Marcel Helfer also posted a five-point return and his ding-dong battle with Robert Ksiezak to secure second place behind Sarjeant in that second race was a commendable effort. Sarjeant was thrilled with his reward on an Armadale track he hadn’t ridden on before and he said: “It’s a good circuit and I certainly prefer it to Workington and Berwick, and I enjoyed myself.”
Helfer commented: “I felt a bit more comfortable on my home track and to score five points for the second meeting running, is very good for me.”
Cook scored 12 points but was riding a patched-up bike following a spill he had at Birmingham the night before. “I felt a bit tired and things did not really work out that well for me, but the team got the win and that’s the important thing.”
Second string Derek Sneddon was celebrating his 30th birthday and his nine-point haul proved to be the icing on the cake for the Falkirk based ace, who said: “It’s been something of a nightmare week for me, my van broke down among other things, so to end on a high was great for me.”
Monarchs, who zoomed into a 32-16 lead at the halfway mark never looked like surrendering this advantage despite Plymouth’s double tactical ride successes . However Monarchs star Andrew Tully continues to be affected with back pain and last places in his final two rides did not exactly please him.
“My back was killing me,” said Tully, “and during the early heats the track was a bit patchy which did not help me. I just couldn’t make things happen for me. And I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to put up a better fight against Plymouth’s big guns Ryan Fisher and Ben Barker.”
Dutchman Theo Pijper was also riding in slight discomfort after bruising his wrist at Glasgow last week, but you would not have guessed it as he dropped just one point from his four starts against Fisher in the ninth race.
Pijper said: “The track was pretty hard to ride because there was quite a lot of dirt on it. But we all rode well as a team and the win was really good to take us off the bottom of the table because we don’t really deserve to be down there.”
Monarchs captain Matthew Wethers wasn’t entirely happy with his machinery after he retired in his second race and his eventual six-point tally will have disappointed the Aussie who hasn’t had his troubles to seek so far this term.
Meanwhile Monarchs announced that Hungarian Joszef Tabaka, who rode for the side two years ago, has been signed as a short-term replacement for Micky Dyer who has been the victim of a broken foot.
Tabaka will make his return debut against Rye House Rockets on Friday.
Promoter John Campbell said: “I have tried to lure Tabaka back three times already this season, and he has turned me down, but this time he finally agreed to ride for us again.”
Monarchs: Cook 12, Pijper 11, Sneddon 9, Tully 7, Wethers 6, Sarjeant 5, Helfer 5.
Plymouth:Barker 16, Fisher 12, Kurtz 4, Holder 3, Ksiezak 3, Gathercole 2, Reade 1.