Edinburgh MONARCHS’ promise to bounce back stronger after their humbling home defeat by Newcastle Diamonds will be put to the test tonight when they travel to Ipswich Witches for the deciding leg of their League Cup speedway semi-final, defending a slender six-point lead.
Dutch ace Theo Pijper today warned that unless the Capital side step up a gear their silverware hopes could hit the skids. Pijper said: “It’s a huge priority that we get back to riding to the level we know we are capable of and have been doing for much of this season. We all know how well we can score away from home and we must make this count in our favour again.”
Monarchs’ 52-41 loss to the Diamonds, whom they will meet in the final if they prevail this evening, was a bolt from the blue and highlighted weaknesses in the team that have been papered over.
Pijper admitted: “It was an embarrassment and we need to get away from that. The track on Friday did not suit us. Newcastle were trapping from the gate, we were sleeping at the gate.
“Newcastle were probably made stronger by using rider replacement for Christian Henry, but that is no excuse. They raised their game, we lowered ours – it’s as simple as that. The way forward is to make sure we gain a result at Ipswich.”
Pijper added: “Since the starting gate was moved at Armadale, it now means there is a far shorter run into the first and second bends and this is causing problems for us, especially if you are off gate four, the outside position, as you have to make a super start to get round everybody else.
“But I spoke to our track curator ‘Doc’ Bridgett after Friday’s meeting and he is going to upgrade the gate four area for us. Hopefully this will improve things for everybody in the team at home.
“I certainly struggled in my first two rides before picking up a bit towards the end, but when Newcastle were making so many good starts, it is so difficult to come from the back. I’m still not fully fit after hurting my ribs a few weeks ago, but you get used to these things and deal with them. Life goes on and I’m not blaming my condition for what happened against Newcastle.”
Monarchs would have liked a bigger points cushion to aid their cause and Pijper believes the Witches must be shackled from the off to stop them running amok.
“Six points is not a lot and much will depend on how we start the meeting,” he added. “If we have a good first five or six heats, we have a definite chance of going through, but it depends on whether we are wearing our gating shoes.
“I have prepared my bikes for getting out of the starts, because I find it hard to get round Ipswich. If we all click and ride well, I think we are unstoppable, but we must all get out of the starts.
“Ipswich are a good team, so it is not going to be easy for us, but we owe our fans something to make up for last week. We have had some amazing results on the road, let’s hope tonight brings another one.”
Witches team manager Pete Simmons said: “We are not too unhappy to try and make up six points, it is do-able and that’s the main thing.
“However Monarchs have been performing very well away from home this season, so we will be taking nothing for granted.”