EDINBURGH Monarchs recovered from a sticky start at Armadale last night to eventually overcome Plymouth Devils 56-36 in a highly entertaining Premier League speedway clash which gives the Capital side plenty of hope of securing a quick double when they travel to the St Boniface Arena for tonight’s return tie.
The Devils’ form so far this season may not have been outstanding but when they led Monarchs 13-11 after just four heats thanks to a 5-1 from Corey Gathercole and Todd Kurtz over Claus Vissing and Jozsef Tabaka, who suffered an engine failure, it was feared the Devils were going to push their hosts right to the wire.
However Monarchs gave themselves a reality check and were spurred into action by new signing Mitchell Davey who pulled off a fantastic victory over Mark Lemon and Ricky Kling in heat seven, and this seemed to imbue Monarchs with the spark they needed to show their mettle.
Davey’s win was a very controlled ride indeed, the Aussie never looked like being passed.
And with two further points to his credit including an excellent third place effort in keeping Chris Schramm at the back in heat 11, the Australian signposted the way for his teammates to step up a gear in a dominant second half performance. Davey was delighted with his debut five point display saying: “I made a decent gate in the race I won and it proved to a lot of people that I can actually ride Armadale, the track was actually superb and the points I scored were good for the team overall.
“Plymouth certainly kept things tight in the first few heats, but I didn’t want to think about that for fear of putting pressure on myself. “
Davey added: “I actually think we could sneak a win down there this evening, I like the Plymouth track, it’s good to ride and we could have a chance.”
Monarchs second-half revival stunned Plymouth who must have been wholly content by the manner in which they restricted Monarchs scoring early on. But with some fantastic speedway and good old fashioned tenacity, Monarchs underlined the message that it’s going to take an exceptionally good side to head them round the Lothian Arena.
Monarchs powered into an almost unassailable position when they led 40-28 in heat 11 with a 4-2 from Claus Vissing and Davey over Devils No. 1 Ty Proctor and Schramm.
Not for the first time this season, though, it was the always entertaining Tabaka who raised the roof in the next race when he made a supersonic dive up up the inside coming off the second bend to pass Devils duo Lemon and Kurtz as if they were standing still.
It was a brilliant piece of bravado riding and Tabaka’s eventual seven-point tally was totally deserved. He said: “I enjoyed that heat 11 race, I just saw the big gap open up in the straight and I went for it, it was slightly scary but it helped me to follow Theo (Pijper) home for a 5-1. I felt good.”
Monarchs’ top ace was Cook who romped to a 15-point maximum and looks so in control when he gets in front, he doesn’t waver and maintains a steady track line. But Pijper was also unbeaten by an opponent as he powered to a 14-point paid maximum. The Dutchman is very much on his game at the moment and doesn’t flinch for anybody going into the first and second bends. Teammate Vissing had to wait until that 11th heat before posting his only win of the meeting.
Monarchs skipper Derek Sneddon had a scare in the opening race when he ran into Proctor who locked up on the fourth bend. But Sneddon although winded, rode on manfully to finish on six points and this included his sole victory of the night against Schramm and Kurtz in heat eight.
Kurtz in fact was the Devils’ highest scorer with nine points from the reserve berth, which perhaps explains why his team ran out of steam a bit after a gutsy first half showing.
Team manager Lee Trigger said: “A twenty-point loss is quite hard to take after we led the match after four races. But we fell apart in the second half which was disappointing from my point of view.
“I think it will be a different story tonight, we will be much sharper and I think we will reverse this loss.”
Monarchs teenager Max Fricke had a tough time and will have been slightly disappointed at only scoring a single point.
Monarchs: Cook 15, Pijper 14, Vissing 8, Tabaka 7, Sneddon 6, Davey 5, Fricke 1.
Devils: Kurtz 9, Lemon 7, Proctor 6, Gathercole 5, Schramm 4, Kling 3, Anderson 2