Injury-hit Edinburgh Monarchs make the long trek to face Eastbourne Eagles tonight hoping to end their long losing streak away from home in the Championship League, but they face another difficult match with the Eagles flying high in the division and riding with a degree of confidence.
Monarchs are desperate to bounce back from their double derby defeat at the hands of Glasgow Tigers, victories that consolidated the Ashfield side’s third place in the table.
After their 45-43 Armadale loss, many Monarchs fans feared the worse at the Tigers den 48 hours later and while a 55-35 reverse was bad enough, it wasn’t the whitewash some had predicted, with co-promoter John Campbell insisting: “Under the circumstances I felt we were pretty competitive and ran the Tigers pretty close at times.”
Monarchs went into the match without skipper Ricky Wells, who was injured in the first match. It was a fresh blow to Monarchs, who still have Josh Pickering and Luke Ruddick sidelined, but Wells has declared himself fit to face the Eagles and he will also be looking for an upturn in his scoring fortunes.
But while Wells has struggled for consistency so far this term, he is not in any imminent danger of relinquishing his No.1 spot to team-mate Cameron Heeps, who despite performing much better this season, still lags behind Wells in the averages.
Team manager Alex Harkess thought Monarchs didn’t get the best of the breaks at Glasgow and said: “I didn’t think the result was as bad as I had expected. Everyone tried very hard and with a bit of luck we might have scored 40 points.”
Harkess, who has made no secret of his frustration that Monarchs are simply not winning enough heats that matter, added that conditions at Ashfield were not entirely conducive in producing attacking speedway.
He said: “The track was extremely slick and very dusty and so many of our riders were finishing up with no tread on their tyres when they came back into the pits. There was also the usual big hole on the third bend, which we kept on hitting regularly.”
But Harkess saw some encouragement from Monarchs Swedish duo Victor Palovaara and Joel Andersson, who top-scored with ten points.
Said Harkess: “They both had some very good races, but some really bad ones as well. And it’s hard to know from one race to another what you are going to get from them and this is the annoying thing about the whole team actually.”
Harkess concluded: “This won’t be an easy match, although Eastbourne can blow a bit hot and cold at times, but we will do as we always do and aim to leave with something from the meeting.”
Eastbourne defeated runaway league leaders Leicester Lions 57-33 in their KO Cup first-leg tie last week and a win over Monarchs would give them a boost ahead of the second leg at Leicester.
Glasgow’s Paul Starke is the guest replacement for Pickering.