Craig Cook shines but Edinburgh Monarchs lose

Craig Cook drives around Ludvig Lindgren at Newcastle. Picture: Ron MacNeill
Craig Cook drives around Ludvig Lindgren at Newcastle. Picture: Ron MacNeill
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For the second away meeting in a row, Craig Cook won the heat 15 top scorers race for Edinburgh Monarchs at Newcastle Diamonds last night. However, he didn’t have a team-mate to weigh in with a third place finish and, as a consequence, the Capital speedway side narrowly missed out on a match point again as the Diamonds won the Premier League clash 49-41 at a windy Brough Park circuit.

The same situation occurred at Ipswich Witches last Thursday and Cook must be getting slightly frustrated at ploughing a lone farrow in these last-race showdowns.

Monarchs were without top duo Theo Pijper and Claus Vissing who were riding abroad in rearranged fixtures. Redcar’s Aaron Summers stepped in for Pijper and the rider replacement facility operated for Vissing, but that gained only five points, which wasn’t really good enough.

And Monarchs director Mike Hunter expressed slight frustration that his team left empty-handed, saying: “Having led the match at heat eight, I thought we might get something out of it, and it was a bit disappointing to be denied a point for the second time in a week.

“Had Claus and Theo been riding they would have done better I think, because while Aaron got eight points from his first three rides, he was last in his other three. On the positive side, not many teams score as many as 41 points at Newcastle, but it was still hard that we lost out.”

Despite nudging ahead 25-23 after that eighth race, Newcastle hit back with a brace of 5-1s in the next two races to lead 33-27, and even though Cook, who was unbeaten on the night, and skipper Derek Sneddon grabbed a 5-1 in heat 11, it wasn’t enough to stop the Diamonds picking up all three match points. By winning heat 15, Cook picked up the annual Spencer Oliver Memorial Trophy, and said: “I was only doing my job, but I’m grateful to receive it. It was just a bit unfortunate that we were unable to gain anything from the meeting.” Sneddon at least looked more energetic of late. He collected seven points and admitted: “My personal form had dipped a little. I was under so much stress in the weeks leading up to my testimonial meeting last Friday and it had taken its toll a little, so I was pretty pleased with my seven-point score.”

Hungarian star Jozsef Tabaka continues to be enigmatic, though, as he produced another scrappy display. He was excluded twice, then almost knocked his partner Max Fricke off in heat 14. His three-point tally is nowhere near good enough if Monarchs are to have a successful play-off campaign.

Fricke, despite still not feeling 100 per cent fit, won his opening ride and finished up with seven points. He said: “Newcastle are such a strong team at home and it’s always tough to get a result at their place. But we ran them close and obviously we would have liked to snatch a point, and to that extent we are disappointed.

“Being without Claus and Theo was a blow because they are both such a big part of the team at the moment and were definitely missed. I had a few mishaps but overall I was pretty pleased with my score.”

Apart from Chris Schramm, Newcastle were worryingly solid and a 12-point return from Lewis Kerr at reserve will not have gone unnoticed by their championship rivals.

Monarchs head to Workington Comets tonight for their last league match before the plays-offs, with Pijper and Vissing back in action.

Newcastle: Kerr 12, Tully 11, Lindgren 9, Rosen 8, Worrall 8, Schramm 1.

Monarchs: Cook 14, Summers 8, Sneddon 7, Fricke 7, Tabaka 3, Carr 2.