Leicester LIONS’ first Premier League visit to Armadale in April produced one of the shock results of the season when they overturned Edinburgh Monarchs 45-44, a defeat that still causes amazement in speedway circles five months later.
Yet Monarchs captain Matthew Wethers, pictured below, who leads his side into their second encounter against the Midland outfit tonight, admitted the surprise loss wasn’t as cataclysmic as some portrayed it and said: “Although it was a disappointing result for us at the time, we went to their place and defeated them, but we must make sure it doesn’t happen again.
“They have brought in a couple of new riders and it’s not going to be easy for us, but we can do it.”
Monarchs are bound to be feeling a touch jittery in view of their unconvincing display against Somerset Rebels last week, which saw them scramble a 46-46 draw thanks in part to Kyle Howarth’s match-saving win in heat 14 which paved the way for team-mates Kevin Wolbert and Craig Cook to snatch a dramatic last race 5-1 to deny the Rebels outright victory.
Wethers thinks his side fully deserved a share of the spoils despite being on the ropes in a rocky first half. “We fought back, and we didn’t get off to a winning start and that was the real problem for us,” he said.
“We really should have pulled ahead over the last few races but didn’t quite manage it, but no-one should have been surprised at how well Somerset rode because you look at their side and it’s a strong one with no weak links.
“They were also stronger by having three of their riders out due to the guests they brought in to replace them, I never expected it to be an easy match and so it proved.
“We knew we were behind from the start, but it wasn’t a case of us not trying, we were.”
Monarchs might well have triumphed overall but Wethers’ tumble in the penultimate race put paid to that hope after his front wheel was apparently taken away by Rebels’ fiery young reserve Alex Davies.
Wethers reflected: “If I had been in the same situation I might well have taken the same racing line as Davies, if I was annoyed at anyone, it was the referee who should have called the race back.”
Wethers has been one of Monarchs’ most dependable performers in recent years and is in line for a ten-year testimonial salute in 2012.
And while the Aussie may not be considered a headline-hogging big hitter, his unerring consistency has been beyond price on occasions. Asked how he feels about his form this season, he replied: “I always think I could have done better and look at those individual races where I have dropped points which frustrates me, but I’m the top Monarch in the Speedway Star averages so it’s not been too bad a season.
“I spent a lot on my bikes this year to improve my starts and I think it has paid off and helped the whole team.”
Asked if Monarchs’ reserve woes earlier in the season had a detrimental effect on the club’s push for title glory again, Wethers added: “If you look around there were no options open to the team to take, you have just got to ride as it is and do your best, and that’s good enough.”