Edinburgh Monarchs earn first-leg lead in KO Cup – but it could’ve been more

Josh Pickering leads the way. Pic: Jack Cupido
Josh Pickering leads the way. Pic: Jack Cupido
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Edinburgh Monarchs have given themselves a fighting chance of reaching the KO Cup final after taking the polish off Newcastle Diamonds in last night’s semi final first leg clash at Armadale.

Monarchs triumphed 52-38, but made heavy weather of their success at times.

Monarchs team manager Alex Harkess said: “We should have had a bigger to take back to Newcastle on Sunday, the Diamonds were a bit lucky.”

Newcastle boss George English said: “We only had six of our own riders, but I felt we were riding against more than that because of some of the decisions that were made against us.”

Edinburgh looked to have made a storming start to the match in the first heat when skipper Ricky Wells and Victor Palovaara gated in a 5-1 position, but unfortunately Palovaara made a mistake on the first turn and Monarchs had to settled for a 3-3 instead.

Palovaara said: “It was unfortunate, but I then had too much to do to catch up and I couldn’t manage to clinch third place for a point.”

And it remained tight in the second heat when former Monarch Max Clegg took the chequered flag for Newcastle in fine styl,e but luckily Monarchs duo William Lawson and Connor Coles kept Clegg’s team-mate Danny Phillips at the back for another share of the spoils.

Monarchs took the lead in the next race when Josh Pickering, making his comeback from a shoulder injury, easily outpaced Diamonds pair Coty Garcia and Matthew Wethers and with Joel Andersson following Pickering home, this 5-1 put Monarchs 11-7 ahead at this early stage.

Pickering said: “Yeah it was a decent race for me and a good race to win. My shoulder is holding up well, no problems so far.”

Both teams traded 4-2s in heats four and five but Monarchs lead was cut to four points, 17-13 and things were getting twitchy for the home side.

Monarchs hit back in heat six with their second 5-1 of the match from Wells and Palovaara and extended their lead to eight points, which they maintained with a 3-3 in the seventh race.

The Diamonds kept chipping away and a 4-2 from Clegg and Ulrich Ostergaard in the ninth race cut Monarchs lead to six points – 30-24 – but a 4-2 from Wells and Palovaara in the following heat restored their eight-point gap once more.

Monarchs forged 12 points in front with a 5-1 from Pickering and Lawson in heat 12, Lawson for once making a decent start from the tapes.

A 4-2 from Monarchs in the penultimate heat extended their lead to 14 points, which they held on to.

Monarchs: Heeps 13, Pickering 10, Wells 10, Lawson 6,Andersson 5, Palovaarra 5, Coles 3.

Newcastle: Worrall 13, Clegg 12, Wethers 7, Ostergaard 5, Garcia 1, Phillips 0.