Kickstarting League season with a win is a must for Edinburgh Monarchs
Leicester Lions are the kings of the Championship League speedway jungle with three wins out of three, and they lead the table at this early stage, confirming their status as pre-season favourites to lift the crown.
Edinburgh Monarchs, who open their campaign at Armadale tonight against the high-flying Lions, face a difficult and testing task and the stakes could not be higher.
Lose and one could argue their chances of reaching the play-offs are slim, victory on the other hand might convince sceptics of the Monarchs squad this season to give them a chance and they will come good.
Certainly for skipper Ricky Wells, he is under some pressure to deliver a favourable result and argues that everyone in the team must perform as a unit this evening if they are to tame the Lions.
Said Wells: “Leicester are probably the strongest team in the league along with Sheffield Tigers. We will have our hands full, it is the type of match where our second strings and reserves really need to do their job and make life a little bit easier on the rest of us.
“It is so important to start our home league campaign with a win, we just need to get our heads down and work really hard.”
Wells has not found the consistency yet in his performances compared to last year and he is frustrated by the slight dip in his scoring, admitting: “It’s been a bit hit and miss to be truthful, especially in the Elite League with Belle Vue Aces.
“We are trying everything we can to put things right and I think we are going in the right direction, although I’m not getting the rewards I should be at the moment.”
Monarchs’ massive victory over Scunthorpe Scorpions on Saturday, which fired them into the KO Cup semi-finals, gave them a welcome boost, but while the Scorpions proved passive opponents, the Lions will be just the opposite.
“It was a pretty good all-round performance,” said Wells. “It was just the sort of lift we needed ahead of the Leicester match which will be a lot tougher for us.”
Wells, who romped to a paid maximum against the Scorpions, singled out reserve star Luke Ruddick for special praise, saying: “He rode a very good match and defeated some accomplished riders. He gives it a crack and that’s what I like to see.
“He is full of commitment and effort and if he keeps that up he’ll have a really good year.”
The Lions are managed by ex-Glasgow Tigers boss Stewart Dickson and have made a storming start to their league programme with home wins against Newcastle Diamonds and Eastbourne Eagles, who they also beat away from home with the help of Monarchs ace Josh Pickering who guested for the Lions and scored 11 points from five starts!
Monarchs team manager Alex Harkess said: “Every league match is important, you cannot afford any slip-ups at home.
“If you have a perfect home record it makes getting in to the play-offs a lot easier.
“Leicester will be a difficult match simply because of the way their team is made up. Scott Nicholls, Richie Worrall, and Josh Bates are a trio of very good riders who have done very well at Armadale before.
“But I know what our riders are capable of, whether they are capable of doing it all on the same night is the big question. If they produce what they are capable of tonight I’m sure we’ll do very well.”
Harkess added: “Certain journalists are always trying to knock us saying Scunthorpe were so poor it was hard to judge how well we really rode.
“But we did what we had to do and we are in the last four of the competition.”