Monarchs set up potential Glasgow derby in KO Cup
Edinburgh Monarchs sailed into the Premier League speedway Knockout Cup quarter-finals after a feisty first round second-leg clash at Plymouth Devils on Saturday night.
And the prospect of a last-eight derby encounter against Glasgow Tigers looms large if the Ashfield side can overcome Redcar Bears in their forthcoming two-leg first round encounter.
Monarchs boss John Campbell said: “That could be interesting because we know what might happen.”
Monarchs defended a lead of 18 points against the Devils and it’s just as well they held such a healthy advantage as Plymouth threatened to sink Monarchs in the second half with a spirited fightback.
Plymouth did triumph 47-42 but were comfortably beaten 96-83 on aggregate.
Campbell admitted: “We suffered a bit of a wobble in the middle of the match but came through easily in the end.
“We knew it would be difficult for us as Plymouth are a different kettle of fish around their super-slick track, and if you don’t get the all important set-up right you don’t get anywhere.”
Monarchs were superbly marshalled by captain Sam Masters who powered to a superb 15-point maximum, Campbell purring: “Sam was immense and did exceptionally well.”
Masters wasn’t entirely convinced he would win his last ride to complete his five-ride full house saying: “I did not have choice of gates but I made a good start and held Ben Barker off into the first turn and got away after that.”
The meeting did have it’s fair share of fallers notably in heat six when Monarchs star Ryan Fisher lifted and crashed into the fence. He limped back to the pits after he was attended by the medical staff and was excluded from the rerun.
But Plymouth’s Stefan Nielsen replicated Fisher’s mishap at the second time of asking and Ben Barker did well to lay down his bike to avoid hitting his team-mate.
With Nielsen also excluded the referee awarded the race in favour of Monarchs reserve Max Clegg who defeated Barker who was the only other finisher.
Clegg, in fact, had a very productive meeting picking up eight points overall which came hard on the heels of his seven-point gained at Armadale 24 hours earlier.
Campbell said: “I think Max has finally turned the corner and is now looking much more confident. He was a lot happier in the pits and is much better in himself.”
Unfortunately colleague Jye Etheridge continues to toil, and the young Aussie failed to score and cannot seem to turn enthusiasm into precious points.
Monarchs held the Devils in check before a brace of 5-1 advantages in heats nine and ten saw the home side lead 33-26 slashing their arrears to just 11 points on aggregate.
However, in a crucial intervention in heat 11, Masters and Erik Riss produced a 5-1 of their own which steered Monarchs towards the quarter-finals.
Although Masters was the stand out performer, Riss, Kevin Wolbert, who did not win a race, and Clegg provided enough back up to stave off a possible crisis over the latter stages.
Jack Holder was Plymouth’s top scorer with 12 points and was well supported by guest and former Devils ace Ben Barker who claimed ten points.
Plymouth: Holder 12, Barker 10, Nielsen 9, Kurtz 8, Simota 6, Perks 2.
Monarchs: Masters 15, Clegg 8, Riss 7, Wolbert 7, Fisher 4, Greenwood 1, Etheridge 0.