Newcastle Diamonds have won eight times at Armadale since 1997. And while they did not look like adding to that figure, they made Edinburgh Monarchs work pretty hard for their 52-40 Premier League speedway victory at the Lothian Arena last night.
Newcastle were always labelled Monarchs’ bogey team in the early days of their tenure at Armadale and they still possess the capability to give the Capital side a case of the jitters.
In a first half which was workmanlike as opposed to spectacular, Newcastle clung to their hosts like limpets and restricted Monarchs to an eight-point advantage after eight races.
Monarchs really should have been further in front but a rare fall by skipper Craig Cook while leading in heat seven robbed the home side of what would have been their first 5-1 advantage of the match.
Luckily, reserve Max Clegg was tucked in behind Cook before he tumbled on the third bend and Monarchs escaped with a 3-3 instead.
It wasn’t one of Cook’s more productive displays and a retiral in heat 13 when he tried too hard to make up ground on the first lap while lying last, meant he finished with just six points, two wins admittedly, from his four rides. There had been doubt over his participation after he withdrew from Belle Vue’s Elite League meeting on Thursday after suffering severe headaches. The Englishman was clearly unhappy with his efforts and was a notable absentee from the victory truck at the end of proceedings.
Monarchs did however step up the tempo a bit over the latter part of the contest and a 5-1, at last, from Justin Sedgmen and Clegg in heat 14 eventually added some gloss to Monarchs’ final scoreline.
The Diamonds are always doughty opponents and it was former Monarch Steve Worrall who did quite a bit of points scoring damage against his former team-mates after a slow start to the meeting.
Worrall picked up 13 points from his last three rides, including a tactical second place in heat ten, and his final 16 point haul proved to be gold dust to the Diamonds who simply failed to sparkle in other departments. And it was Worrall who stopped Sam Masters’ maximum hopes in the final race when he made another smart gate and simply couldn’t be caught.
Masters led the way for Monarchs with 14 points and it’s easy to see why he is revelling in his new No. 1 spot. And at the lower end Monarchs’ reserves featured in some of the best scraps of the match with Clegg and Rob Branford collecting seven and six points respectively. With Kevin Wolbert and Sedgmen reasonably solid, Monarchs, despite a couple of wobbles, were never going to let the Diamonds jinx them.
Branford said: “I was pretty pleased with how things went, the track was a bit tricky, but we all stuck together, and Newcastle always seem to do well at our place.”
Masters was a bit aggrieved at failing to overhaul Worrall in heat 15, and said: “Steve was on it all night, and he knows Armadale so well, and knew exactly what to do to keep me out.” Sedgmen admitted: “I thought I was going to run out of engines this week because I’ve riding all over the place.”
Monarchs: Masters 14, Sedgmen 10, Wolbert 9, Clegg 7, Branford 6, Cook 6.
Newcastle: Worrall 16, Kerr 9, Lindgren 7, Nielsen 6, Henry 2, Rose 0.