Edinburgh Monarchs are on a slippery slope after Championship opening defeat to Redcar Bears

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More than a month has passed since the 2023 curtain-raiser against old foes the Glasgow Tigers, the Edinburgh Monarchs kicking off the new season with a 48-42 victory.

But fast forward five weeks and those bragging rights now seem a distant memory.

Since that triumph on April 7 the Capital septet have failed to register another win in six attempts, exiting both the BSN Series and Knockout Cup in the process.

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Last night's 47-43 loss to the Redcar Bears in their Championship opener has muddied the waters even more. If the Monarchs harbour genuine aspirations of winning their first league title since 2015, there needs to be a drastic improvement over the next few weeks.

Lasse Fredriksen couldn't prevent a Monarchs defeat despite scoring an impressive seven, paid nine. Picture: Jack Cupido.Lasse Fredriksen couldn't prevent a Monarchs defeat despite scoring an impressive seven, paid nine. Picture: Jack Cupido.
Lasse Fredriksen couldn't prevent a Monarchs defeat despite scoring an impressive seven, paid nine. Picture: Jack Cupido.

Wednesday's trip to the Birmingham Brummies, who are considered one of the weaker sides in the division, has essentially become a must-win.

The loss of skipper and No.1 Josh Pickering to a shoulder injury at Berwick three weeks ago has clearly rocked the boat. The 26-year-old Australian's absence can't be understated. His personality and enthusiasm rubs off on his team-mates. He is a huge miss around the pits, not to mention his ability to rack up double figures for the team both home and away from Armadale. That said, the remaining six riders, and more than able guest, have completed enough laps around the West Lothain circuit to compensate for Pickering's time off the shale.

There were some good individual performances against Redcar but, from a team's perspective, last night didn't make good viewing. Only five race winners from a rider in a red or blue helmet colour with the visitors clocking up an impressive ten. Given how the meeting unfolded, it was truly remarkable Monarchs still had a chance of snatching victory going into the final race of the evening. The Bears appeared to have the faster machinery, were quicker out the gate and throughly deserved to take the points back to Teesside.

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The stop-start nature of the campaign is doing no one any favours. Monarchs' last meeting prior to Redcar's visit was against Oxford at the end of last month with the next meeting at Armadale not until May 26 when the Scunthorpe Scorpions travel north. That is too much time off the bike for those who are not riding on the continent.

But I remain hopeful that the team will come good with Pickering set to return in the next few weeks. Perhaps a win in the Midlands this week will give everyone - riders and supporters - a much-needed boost. Co-managers Alex Harkess and John Campbell will be closely monitoring the situation that's for sure.