Edinburgh Monarchs forced to settle for a draw with Redcar Bears on their return to the track
The first home meeting in 602 days ended in frustration for the Edinburgh Monarchs as they fought back to earn a 45-45 draw against the Redcar Bears.
Nevertheless, speedway was the real winner and how fantastic it was to see two teams finally back on track – and supporters inside Armadale Stadium – following a 19-month hiatus due to Covid-19.
Nerves played their part at the start of heat one and Monarchs No.1 Sam Masters had to dig deep to pass Anders Rowe, leaving it until the very last corner when the Australian expertly cut up the inside to take the chequered flag.
There was little to choose between the sides after the first three heats, but the hosts grabbed their first heat advantage of the evening when Richie Worrall managed to navigate his way past Jake Allen and ride off into the distance. Willie Lawson kept Allen honest to finish in third and edge the Monarchs in front 13-11.
Kye Thomson, who is making his British speedway debut, took a superb victory in heat five after impressively fending off the challenge of 2019 British champion Charles Wright. Josh Pickering filled in to take a point as the Monarchs edged four in front 17-13 after five heats.
The stylish Allen inflicted defeat on Monarchs No.1 Masters for the Bears only heat win in the opening six but James Sargeant’s fall and subsequent exclusion ensured the gap remained at four.
However, the visitors drew level after eight heats when Monarchs duo Lawson and Nathan Greaves completely missed the start and, despite a valiant effort from the latter, Rowe was followed home by team-mate Jordan Jenkins for a 5-1.
Worrall reeled off his third consecutive victory but rising star Joe Lawlor failed to score in his third and final heat of the night ensuring the score remained tied at 33-33.
But the Bears edged assumed the lead for the first time in the meeting when Dane Michael Palm Toft and James Sarjeant, who was released by the Monarchs during the close season, raced to the English outfit’s second 5-1 to edge in front 38-34.
The Monarchs were now trailing by four with only three heats remaining, but not even heat leaders Masters and Worrall could stop Allen, who was a very late signing for the Bears, in his tracks.
Pickering and Lawson reduced the arrears to two in the penultimate heat meaning the Monarchs required a 5-1 in the final heat of the night to steal the win.
And although Masters and Worrall made the gate, Palm Toft rounded Worrall to ensure the Monarchs had to settle for a solitary point from their Championship opener.
The two sides meets tomorrow in the return fixture at the Media Prima Arena.
Monarchs: Masters 13, Worrall 11, Pickering 10, Lawson 5, Thomson 4, Greaves 2, Lawlor 0.
Bears: Palm Toft 11, Allen 10, Sarjeant 7, Rowe 6, Wright 5, Jenkins 3, Stewart 3.