Leicester Lions maul Edinburgh Monarchs

Edinburgh Monarchs' Craig Cook leads Leicester Tigers Alex Edberg
Edinburgh Monarchs' Craig Cook leads Leicester Tigers Alex Edberg
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Edinburgh Monarchs promoter John Campbell today said it was “hugely disappointing” to see his side lose 50-40 in their Premier League speedway clash at Leicester Lions on Saturday and singled out a rash of machine problems for skipper Derek Sneddon and teammate Jozsef Tabaka as the main reason for their defeat.

And Campbell made it clear that unless the pair can iron out their gremlins, Monarchs’ bid to finish in the top two in the table – giving them choice of their prospective play-off opponents – will be doomed.

Sneddon endured a complete nightmare and scored just two points, and was also caught napping in two races when he surrendered third place just yards from the finishing line, while Tabaka suffered two retirals which disguised the fact that he actually rode quite well.

But Campbell was unimpressed and said: “We had the riders capable of winning the meeting but did not have the machinery capable of doing it. Derek was nowhere and complained about his bikes from the start, he swapped bikes but it made no difference. Jozsef was the same, he swapped bikes and then switched back to his original bike.

“I’m absolutely certain if Derek and Jozsef had been happy with their machinery we would have won quite easily. Derek said his bikes were like “bucking broncos” and couldn’t control them properly, and he looked completely out of sorts. He has been doing so well recently it can only be put down to his machinery.”

Sneddon revealed he had been trying to rebuild his big track bike he wrecked at Somerset, but said: “It wasn’t right so I had to revert to the bike I normally use for Armadale which is no good for a fast circuit like Leicester.”

Tabaka was especially frustrated having spent £1000 on new clutches and commented: “It was the clutches which were causing me so many problems! I don’t know what was going on with them, I feel very disappointed, I switched machines during the match, but it did not make any difference but I need to get things sorted out.”

On a more positive note, guest reserve stand-in Liam Carr certainly caught the eye and picked up three excellent third places including once race when he kept Lions star Jan Graversen at the back.

However the youngster was a victim of a bad refereeing decision in heat 14 which infuriated Campbell. “Liam was run into the fence by Alex Edberg but the referee adjudged Liam had fallen off and disqualified him.

“It was such an astonishingly bad decision that I just couldn’t believe it, Edberg should have been disqualified because he took Liam right into the fence and left him with nowhere to go. Everybody in the pits saw exactly what happened, but the referee did not.”

Monarchs’ top scorer was inevitably Craig Cook who broke the Leicester track record no fewer than three times over the course of the match. Cook rattled up 14 points from his five starts and dropped his only point to former Monarch Magnus Karlsson in the 11th heat.

Claus Vissing and Theo Pijper also won races but generally Monarchs, who toiled a bit on the slickish surface which Leicester is noted for, failed to produce enough chequered flag heroes to propel them to victory. Campbell however has not given up on his quest for a top two berth, saying: “We still have a chance, we need ten or eleven points from our remaining matches to get us up there and providing all the bikes are running properly, we can still do it.”

Monarchs used the rider replacement facility for Max Fricke who hurt his back in a spectacular crash against Somerset Rebels on Friday and Campbell added: “Max has been told to rest for a few days but is hopeful he will be back to face Ipswich Witches on Friday.”

Meanwhile, Monarchs are looking to stage their leg of the KO Cup semi replay against Somerset on Friday, September 20.

•Leicester: Karlsson 14, Bjerre 12, Graversen 8, Edberg 6, Eklof 5, Nielsen 5.

Monarchs: Cook 14, Pijper 9, Vissing 9, Carr 3, Tabaka 3, Sneddon 2.