Edinburgh Monarchs v Berwick is now a must-win tie

Max Clegg wasnt happy with his performance in the season opener, scoring two points in GlasgowMax Clegg wasnt happy with his performance in the season opener, scoring two points in Glasgow
Max Clegg wasnt happy with his performance in the season opener, scoring two points in Glasgow
Edinburgh Monarchs are not exactly at panic stations following their hefty 56-37 League Cup reverse at Glasgow Tigers last weekend.

But unless they see off Berwick Bandits in their second qualifying tie at Armadale tonight, their grip on the trophy will be over as only the group winners going through to the semi-finals later in the season.

And one man has more reason than most to pull on his scoring boots. Senior reserve Max Clegg only scored two points at Ashfield and he admitted: “I felt so bad about that, it wasn’t a good feeling.”

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Not that Clegg was the only rider culpable for the big loss. “I don’t think we lost because anybody was rusty,” said Clegg, “It has been a long winter and some riders have had more matches than others.

“I don’t know what happened to be honest. I certainly wasn’t happy with my own performance, a few of our team struggled but I’m sure it will be sorted out for tonight.

“We knew it was going to be very difficult through there because even last year Glasgow were the favourites with some people to win the league and they have been tipped again this year.

“But it’s only the start of the new season for us and if we are going to lose matches it’s better off we do it now rather than in the play-offs if we get there.”

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Clegg said the Glasgow track was very wet after morning rain but doesn’t offer that up as an excuse. “I struggled quite badly even although I thought I rode quite well on the day. But my bike let me down.

“I missed some starts and I was so slow. I stripped down my bike on Monday and found some problems with it which hopefully I have sorted because I don’t want a repeat of Sunday.

“It’s not a good feeling to struggle and only collect two points, I felt pretty bad about that and I want to start off tonight with a bag load of points to make amends.”

Clegg, who is riding in all three divisions this season, is under the spotlight to perform at the tail-end and kick on from the progress he achieved in the Premier League in 2015.

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And with reserve partner, 16-year-old Daniel Bewley, a novice speedway racer, Clegg knows he has to make his experience tell.

“I suppose people are looking to me to score decent points. Last year we had Rob (Branford) at reserve and that took quite a lot of the pressure off me. But there is a little bit on me now this year. It’s only really what I put on myself because the Edinburgh management don’t put pressure on me. Dan looked pretty good and rode steadily considering it was his first meeting.

“He was also mixing it with some of the big boys which was great. It is going to be good to watch him progress as the season goes on.”

Jye Etheridge is also keen to get on the scorechart tonight after admitting he “threw away” four points against Glasgow. He said: “It was pretty frustrating but it was my first meeting in the UK. I made some silly mistakes and I was pretty nervous. I’ve been working on my gating this week and hopefully I can score the points I know I’m capable of getting against Berwick.”

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Although Berwick don’t have an outstanding record at Armadale they have a solid looking side this term and two of their stalwarts, Matthew Wethers and Theo Pijper, are ex-Monarchs and can ride the Lothian Arena wearing sunglasses. And with Wethers down at reserve the laid-back Aussie star could really make hay for the Border visitors.

Added Clegg: “As long as we win as many meetings as we can we’ll be all right, Glasgow was a one-off. But we can’t write Berwick off, they have some good riders this year.

“And after losing at Glasgow we need to be looking to win away at Berwick as well if we can. We need to keep on course and crack it.”