Edinburgh Monarchs could not recover from a stuttering start at Ashfield yesterday and went down 51-42 against Glasgow Tigers in their League Cup speedway tie.
Glasgow moved back again to the top of the qualifying section leaving Monarchs with some work to do if they want to reach the semi-finals of the tournament. Their first priority is to defeat Glasgow at Armadale on Friday and try to avoid losing heavily to Workington Comets 24 hours later.
It all went wrong for Monarchs early on and they trailed their hosts 14-4 after just three heats which prompted Monarchs team manager Alex Harkess to give Aussie Sam Masters a tactical outing in the sixth race to help stem the tide.
Masters, to his credit, grabbed the opportunity in fine style to head home Tigers No.1 Richard Lawson, and with Max Clegg finishing third, Monarchs secured a precious 7-2 advantage to cut Tigers’ lead to six points, 22-17.
But Monarchs ran 11 last places over the course of the meeting, a grim statistic, which rendered any chance of victory almost impossible.
The Tigers, in contrast, all scored solidly while Monarchs were very hit and miss, especially No.2 Justin Sedgmen who was without any points after his first three outings and was somewhat embarrassingly replaced by reserve Robert Branford for his fourth outing.
It was the right choice because Branford once again rode with some degree of tenacity and picked up six points from his six outings including a fine victory over his Tigers counterpart Victor Palovaara in the penultimate heat.
Monarchs skipper Craig Cook won’t count the meeting as one of his most distinguished. The Englishman burst the tapes in the first heat and had to start from 15 metres back and could only scrape a point behind Tigers pairing Lawson and Kozza Smith. Cook’s only win came in heat 11 when he got the better of Aaron Summers.
Not for the first time it was Masters who glowed like a well lit fire and he dropped his only points against Summers in heat 13, and his haul of 16 points undoubtedly prevented Monarchs suffering from a far heavier reverse.
Monarchs’ other reserve, Max Clegg, picked up a slight wrist knock in the sixth race when he couldn’t avoid running into the back of Smith who fell in front of him on the second bend of the second lap, and Branford replaced his team-mate in heat 12.
Monarchs’ German duo of Kevin Wolbert and Erik Riss had varying fortunes.
Wolbert scored eight points, which encompassed one win, but Riss struggled to get to grips with the Ashfield circuit and picked up just a single point. But it’s still very much a learning a curve for the talented 19-year-old, who at least has found the winning habit at Armadale over the last two weeks.
Harkess commented: “We never gated. There was a few tape malfunctions and we just didn’t work the gates out and this made life very difficult for ourselves.
“Too many of our riders did not do as well as they should have and left themselves short, that summed it up really.”
Glasgow: Summers 10, Morris 9, Sarjeant 8, Lawson 7, Smith 6, Berge 6, Palovaara 5.
Monarchs: Masters 16, Cook 10, Wolbert 8, Branford 6, Clegg 1, Riss 1, Sedgmen 0.