Commonwealth Games chiefs may have changed their minds about blowing up the Red Road tower blocks as part of the opening ceremony, but Edinburgh Monarchs performed their own demolition job against Glasgow Tigers in yesterday’s one-sided League Cup speedway clash at Ashfield Stadium.
Monarchs humbled their oldest rivals 58-35, making it eight wins out of eight since the season started last month. If the Capital side defeat Sheffield Tigers in their opening league fixture at Armadale on Friday, they will be one short of their all-time record of ten consecutive wins.
This was a hugely embarrassing reverse for a Glasgow side who believed they could exact revenge for their 55-38 defeat on Friday in West Lothian.
It never looked likely to happen. With track conditions bordering on arid, it was all about who made the gate first, and Monarchs murdered their hosts in this department, which is a surprise in itself given that Monarchs do not have a renowned history of making fast starts.
To compound Glasgow’s woes, their No.1 and former Monarch Kevin Wolbert, who picked up 11 points in the first match, inexplicably failed to score in front of his home fans and that was akin to a blow in the solar plexus.
Monarchs, who slammed in three 5-1s on the trot in the first half, had the match sewn up after just six races when they led 27-9. While Frenchman Dimitri Berge and Anders Thomsen produced a tactical 7-2 advantage for Glasgow in the eighth race, it was irrelevant in terms of trying to push the Edinburgh juggernaut off the road.
Monarchs team manager Alex Harkess, who has guided his side to an unbeaten qualifying group run which has sealed their place in the semi-finals, admitted he was slightly surprised at just how tame the Tigers’ challenge turned out to be.
He said: “ We never expected it to be as one-sided as it turned out to be. We just gated ahead of them and this was a huge advantage as passing was very difficult in the dry and dusty conditions.
“As early as the fourth or fifth heat, I felt we were in complete control. Glasgow could not match us out of the gate and this made life very difficult for them. Once our tails went up, there was no stopping us really, because we believed we were going to win every race.”
As somebody who watched Wolbert ride in Monarchs colours not so very long ago, Harkess said he was mystified by the German rider’s collapse. “He rode very well at our track on Friday and there was no reason why he was so bad round his own circuit, but he was and Glasgow obviously suffered as a consequence,” said Harkess. “But in truth Glasgow never looked liked winning the meeting.
“Although there was no pressure on our boys because we were already through to the last four, they still have a living to make and they got stuck in and did their jobs.”
Steve Worrall was once again outstanding at reserve, raking in 11 points which encompassed a trio of race wins.
Worrall said: “I was not at all surprised by how one-sided the meeting was, I was always confident we would beat them.
“We smoked them in the air fence challenge at the start of the season and we were always going to smoke them again.
“Glasgow struggled with their gating and it doesn’t help when Kevin Wolbert, their top rider, did not score. He should be setting an example to his team-mates.”
Commenting on his own performance, Worrall added: “I was over the moon because I’ve had nightmares about Ashfield in the past, but I’m riding it really well this year and I was flying out the gate.
“But it was another good team display and the atmosphere is great in the pits. We have a fantastic squad and everyone has a bit of a laugh – and it also helps that we are on a terrific run right now.”
Craig Cook was Monarchs’ top scorer with 14 points and was beaten just once by Theo Pijper in heat 11. His partner Aaron Fox also rode well for his four points, following up the five-point tally he gained on Friday, and this will do the Californian’s confidence no end of good.
Glasgow: Berge 12, Harrison 11, Pijper 7, Lykke 2, Thomsen 2, Lemon 1, Wolbert 0.
Monarchs: Cook 14, Worrall 11, Masters 9, Fricke 8, Sneddon 7, Sedgmen 5, Fox 4.