Co-promoter John Campbell today reassured Edinburgh Monarchs fans that under fire skipper Matthew Wethers is not heading for any exit door in the wake of his poor scoring during the heavy 52-48 Spring Trophy first leg defeat to Glasgow Tigers at Ashfield on Sunday.
Wethers came under fire after picking up just four points, though, to be fair, his other top line team-mates Craig Cook and No. 1 Andrew Tully fared little better.
Campbell has switched Theo Pijper and Wethers for tomorrow’s return at Armadale, explaining: “We are playing generally to Premier League rules which means heat 12 is the last opportunity for a tactical rider to be used. So it’s better for us to defend that situation by having Theo out in heat 12 and leaving Matthew for heat 14.
“Theo has started off quite strongly and is riding well at the moment.”
The Spring Trophy may not constitute major silverware but Tigers totally dominated Monarchs in all meetings last season and it is very important that Monarchs rediscover the vice-like grip they once held over their west coast rivals.
And, to that end, Campbell insists everything will be done in a bid to see Monarchs overturn their deficit of 14 points. “I think we have a very good chance of doing it,” he said. “Glasgow have three top riders who are very good but they are not unbeatable round Armadale. After that I think we’ve got far greater strength in depth which we hope to make count.”
But Campbell, while stressing that no-one is guaranteed a team place, backed his Aussie captain to get back to winning ways. “We certainly wouldn’t be judging anybody at this stage of the season, it’s simply far too early, and Matthew has shown signs that he can return to what we have come to expect from him.
“Matthew did go through a lean spell at the end of last season as well, and on the basis of that then he has got to really be scoring a few points and I’m sure he will in the second leg on Friday night.”
Wethers was as dejected as anybody with his lowly effort but said: “I didn’t feel comfortable with the track and I’m still working on things to try and improve my gating. Andrew and myself didn’t score well at Glasgow but there is no-one more disappointed than the riders themselves when that happens, we have bills to pay.
“I’m desperate to score as many points as I can, but hopefully I’ll have it sorted soon. I’ve said that there will be more important meetings than the Spring Trophy, but there will also be plenty of other meetings which are not as important as an Edinburgh versus Glasgow match.”
Although the Tigers are not as strong as last season when they romped away with the Premier League crown in style, Campbell cautioned this doesn’t mean they will be pushovers when this year’s campaign begins. “It’s perhaps too early to say, at the start of the match on Sunday, outwith their top three, you perhaps would not have rated this Glasgow side, but they are in a position that some of their second strings and reserves will have to score points – they are not as powerful as they were in 2011.”
The failure of Monarchs’ highest ranked trio to shine in the sun at Ashfield renewed fears that the team could struggle to win on the road this season, but Campbell insisted: “I’ve said all along that this team will be dominant at home and one or two away wins will be enough to get us into the top six and the play-offs, and that’s all that counts.
“There will be tracks, like Redcar, last week where their big stars, Ulrich Ostergaard and Aaron Summers proved too good for our guys, but at other times a certain situation can be in your favour, and you are able to come away with victory and I’m sure this will happen again this season.”
Meanwhile, Monarchs’ in-form reserve star Charles Wright is looking for sponsorship, if anyone can assist he can be contacted at the track on race night.