Edinburgh Monarchs face Somserset Rebels - but revenge will be bittersweet

Edinburgh Monarchs host Somerset Rebels at Armadale tonight seeking to avenge their heavy 55-35 defeat by the Rebels at the Oak Tree Arena in midweek, a loss which all but ended their bid to reach the Championship League speedway play-offs.

Friday, 6th September 2019, 06:30 am
This season's Moanechs team has struggled amid injuries and changes to the squad

Monarchs team manager Alex Harkess continues to have hope and insists if Monarchs somehow contrive to win their final two away fixtures at Berwick and Newcastle on Saturday and Sunday, mathematically they could still join the top four.

However, he did concede that even if they were successful this weekend it might not be enough to save their hopes.The game, in truth, is up, and Monarchs are going to miss out on a top-four finish for the second season in a row. For a club which has won five league titles during their Armadale reign, it is a huge disappointment, something the supporters know fine well.

Harkess reflected: “Our failure to win an away match this year has been a huge disappointment. That has been our major problem this season because you don’t make the play-offs by winning just your home fixtures, although we have lost one match at Armadale which didn’t help. It is what it is.”

The true problem for Monarchs in 2019 is the team which was assembled simply wasn’t good enough. Too many riders did not perform to their capabilities, notably No. 1 Ricky Wells whose starting average has dipped by almost a point, and his away form has been dreadful on occasions. He, however, is not the only rider culpable. Said Harkess: “We set out our stall, as we do every year, with the aim of reaching the play-offs and when we don’t make them it is bitterly disappointing. Some of our team have maintained their averages and will consider they have had a good season. Others have dropped theirs.

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“You look to build a team who will all increase their averages, sadly it has not happened this year. This year has been something of a struggle because we have toiled to win on the road. The lower points limit for 2019 has not helped either. I was not in favour of it, I didn’t see the sense in it.

“All it did was to make it extremely difficult to replace riders, that is my opinion.”