With American star Ryan Fisher sidelined with a broken foot following a pile-up at Somerset on Wednesday, Edinburgh Monarchs were already at a disadvantage before turning a wheel against Sheffield Tigers in their Premier League speedway fixture at Owlerton Stadium last night.
But, perhaps stung by deserved criticism of their 57-35 drubbing by Somerset, Monarchs buckled down this time and, although the Tigers emerged slender 47-43 winners, Monarchs did not hand them victory on a plate and earned a well-deserved match point.
Sheffield’s triumph still places some pressure on Monarchs, who are just inside the top six in the table which guarantees entry to the end-of-season play-offs, and incredible as it may seem, Monarchs’ qualification hopes could yet depend on how kind the weather is over the coming weeks.
Monarchs surrendered a 4-2 in the first race when skipper Sam Masters was beaten by Tigers No.1 Simon Stead.
The Capital outfit then quickly reversed that 4-2 in the next race to drawl level and the scores remained tied after five heats at 15-15.
However, Stead and Dimitri Berge claimed a 5-1 over Kevin Wolbert and Max Clegg in the sixth race to give Sheffield a 20-16 lead.
But Monarchs continued to dig in and another shared race in heat seven kept them just four points in arrears. That was halved when Mark Riss and Dan Bewley, who continues to punch way above his weight at reserve, grabbed a 4-2 for Monarchs in the eighth race. It was now nip and tuck and a 4-2 for Sheffield in heat nine once again restored their four-point advantage which they maintained by sharing the tenth race. But the Tigers stretched their lead to six when Jason Garrity and Arthur Sissis snatched a 4-2 against Masters and Mark Riss in the next race to nose in front 36-30. 4-2’s were being traded at will and the fantastic Bewley and Erik Riss grabbed a critical one for Monarchs in heat 12 to peg the home side back to four points once more and it was anybody’s match now. But a 5-1 from Tigers duo Stead and Garrity over Masters and Wolbert in heat 13 was a bad loss for Monarchs, who slipped to eight points behind, but they stoormed back with their own 5-1 from Erik Riss and star of the night Bewley in heat 14 to get within four of their hosts again. But Sheffield shared the spoils in the last race to edge over the line for their narrow victory.
Sheffield: Stead 11, Garrity 11, Howarth 9, Berge 9,, Sissis 4, Bates 3, Greaves 0.
Monarchs: Masters 11, Bewley 10, E. Riss 9, Wolbert 6, M. Riss 4, Clegg 3.