21 is key for Monarchs

Stevie Worrall has been the main man for Monarchs in 2014, and tonight marks his last meeting at reserve. Pic: Ron MacNeill
Stevie Worrall has been the main man for Monarchs in 2014, and tonight marks his last meeting at reserve. Pic: Ron MacNeill
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Edinburgh Monarchs will reach 21 matches unbeaten if they tame Peterborough Panthers in tonight’s Premier League encounter at Armadale.

It’s a figure normally associated with coming of age, and today Monarchs’ co-promoter John Campbell observed: “I think our team have done that already. I don’t think 21 is in our mind particularly. I think 23 is our next target.”

The arrival of a Peterborough side who are already out of the Knockout Cup is giving Campbell slight cause for concern.

He said: “How they will do may well depend on what Ryan Fisher does – he is, of course, very capable round our track although he has not ridden it in a while. But if Ryan comes along and scores double figures it could be very interesting. And Peterborough are potentially a much stronger side than anybody who has visited us in recent times.

“I’m more concerned about them – whether that is genuine concern because they have a chance of winning, I’ll have to wait and see.”

Monarchs displayed a few chinks in their armour against Rye House Rockets last week, but despite being on the wrong end of two 8-1 tactical advantages, Monarchs still ran out comfortable winners. However, Justin Sedgmen, who did not ride well and was pretty down afterwards, confessed he did not think Monarchs rode that well as a unit.

Campbell is not in accord with that view, saying: “Edward Kennett was by far the best visiting rider we have seen at Armadale so far, and he worked hard. When those two 8-1 opportunities came along, he made sure they happened. Edward and his team0mate Luke Bowen rode well – but after that there was very little in the Rye House team to worry about.

“We were disappointed to lose two 8-1s, but we still won the match very easily. Justin did have a poor meeting and Aaron (Fox) also seemed to regress and I was worried about that until I kept tabs on him guesting for Glasgow on Sunday and he scored eight points. I think Aaron will be on the up again for us this evening.”

Stevie Worrall has been the man with the golden touch for Monarchs in 2014, but this marks his last meeting at reserve as he swaps places with struggling skipper Derek Sneddon to move into the main body of the squad.

It could change the scoring dynamics of the team, but not to a huge degree, insists Campbell. “To be honest, Derek started his big comeback for better form at Sheffield last Thursday and I think he showed against Rye House that we should not have concerns about him.

“I still think that Steve will continue to score close to maximum points and Derek will score better than most other reserves in the league. If we win our remaining home matches and don’t get a single point away from home, we will still be close to being top of the table come the play-off matches.”

Asked if Monarchs’ incredible unbeaten run is uppermost in their thoughts, Campbell replied: “Certainly the desire to win every match is there and it will be a disappointment when it comes to an end. But it won’t be the end of the world.

“Whatever happens now, whenever anyone beats us, it’s still been a fantastic run. I’ll be equally disappointed if we don’t reach the end of June unbeaten and, whilst I have not checked every year, I’ll be surprised if that has ever happened in speedway before.”

But Campbell knows, as do the supporters, that the team have to start from scratch again in the play-offs and all their previous heroics are not a guaranteed pathway to claiming a fourth championship crown.

“I’m absolutely aware of the rules because I was the driving force behind the play-offs. So I can’t turn round and say we have got the best team in the league, except over the final two weeks of the play-off programme.

“We know what we are doing and that means getting into the top six and we will see what happens after that. If we end up winning no trophies, it will be very disappointing, but I’ll be surprised if we don’t pick up something along the way.”

Peterborough boast a strong top four and their opening pairing of Fisher and Lewis Blackbird will test Craig Cook and Sedgmen, which might set the tone for the whole match.

Campbell may be twitchy about this contest, but his blue and gold brigade are still expected to triumph and maintain their lead at the top. of the division.