Edinburgh Monarchs edge ahead against Newcastle Diamonds but leave it tight for second leg
The Edinburgh Monarchs have their work cut out if they are to progress to the Knockout Cup quarter-finals after a 47-43 first-leg victory over the Newcastle Diamonds.
There was little to separate the sides at Armadale ensuring it is all to race for in tomorrow’s return leg at Brough Park. Monarchs, however, will be without skipper and No.1 Sam Masters who has racing commitments in Poland. Stevie Worrall will deputise for the Australian.
The hosts got off to the perfect start in heat one as both Masters and Nathan Greaves shot away from the tapes to register a 5-1.
Tom Woolley, who was replacing the injured Joe Lawlor at No.6, slipped off at the second bend of heat two but William Lawson was untroubled as he crossed the line for Monarchs’ second win of the evening to make it 8-4 in favour of the home side.
Kye Thomson registered his second win in blue and gold with a tapes to flag win in heat three, but team-mate Josh Pickering had it all to do to battle his way into a scoring position. Known affectionately around Armadale as ‘Mr Entertainer’, he wound on the throttle to eventually pass Connor Mountain on the last bend to hand the home side a 4-2.
However, the Diamonds picked up their first win and heat advantage in heat five. Despite Thomson making the gate, Kyle Howarth, who was standing in as a guest for Ben Barker, overtook the Australian on the back straight.
And when 22-year-old Thomson fell on the third lap, Pickering took over the chase. However, he was unable to reel in Howarth and with Roynon finishing in third, the visitors reduced the arrears to 18-12.
Monarchs maintained their six-point advantage with heats six and seven shared, Roynon then winning heat eight ahead of Greaves and Lawson to keep it tight 27-21.
Pickering lifted violently and was thrown from his bike on the first bend of heat nine leaving lone Monarch Thomson in the rerun. The Diamonds capitalised and took a 4-2 courtesy of Matthew Wethers and the impressive James Wright to cut Monarchs’ lead 29-25.
Masters and Worrall stuck to the task with heat wins in ten and 11 but it was the Diamonds who finished in the scoring positions to keep the deficit to four.
Newcastle produced their first 5-1 in heat 12 to level the match 36-36 only for top scorers Masters and Worrall to respond immediately with a 5-1 of their own.
The Diamonds showed their mettle, though, to tie the meeting up once again in the penultimate heat, Wright and Max Clegg leading home Pickering and Lawson that set up a final-heat decider for the second week in succession.
But Masters and Worrall, unbeaten by an opposing rider, sealed a narrow win.
Monarchs: Worrall 15, Masters 13, Lawson 6, Thomson 5, Pickering 4, Greaves 4, Woolley 0.
Diamonds: Wright 12, Clegg 8, Mountain 6, Roynon 6, Wethers 6, Howarth 4, Alcock 1.