Edinburgh Monarchs co-promoter John Campbell today warned that Friday’s big Armadale Premier League speedway derby against Glasgow Tigers side will easily be the Capital side’s hardest match of the season so far and their unbeaten home record could be under threat.
However, Glasgow’s plan to overturn Monarchs suffered a setback on Sunday when their Australian rider Kozza Smith was taken to hospital with a suspected broken thigh after a nasty heat-nine tumble.
But Campbell insisted no matter who is in the Tigers squad they will be determined to win at all costs. “I think we ourselves are showing that there will not be many teams who come to Armadale and give us a very close match,” he said, “but I think the scoreline flattered us against Ipswich on Friday, who were definitely in contention and did not give up as many teams do.
“And Glasgow are certainly in that situation, they will never give up. They will be wound up so tightly - they will be required to ride out of their skins to get a result. Glasgow will give us a match for sure. Whether anybody is good enough to run us close, I’m not so sure.”
The Tigers may well think they possess the edge at reserve and this could prove a critical battle in the scrap for points, especially as Monarchs’ tail-end duo of Erik Riss and Max Clegg were less than impressive against Ipswich.
Campbell said: “Erik had a good heat two on Friday, but then only picked up third places after that We are swapping the reserves around for Friday to give Erik the outside gate early and Max the inside gate in the second heat and that will help us.”
Rob Branford’s elevation into the team proper in the tough No.2 position brought little dividend to Monarchs in their 53-37 win against Ipswich. The young Aussie toiled and picked up just a single point, which placed some pressure on Monarchs top four not to drop their standards. They didn’t, but without the insurance policy Steve Worrall provided at reserve last season, Monarchs heat leaders have little room for error.
“We would not expect any of our top four to have a dip in form”, said Campbell, “but it would be a problem if any of them scored nothing and there is no reason to think that will happen.
“Perhaps Rob misjudged just how difficult it was going to be riding at No.2 and I think he will be better prepared on Friday.”
And while Campbell has no immediate concerns over Clegg, he observed: “When I read about his performances in the National League and how he scores his points there, I think to myself, ‘Why can’t he do that in the Premier League’.
“Max certainly thinks too much about what is going on. He asked to ride at No.7 last week because he thought that was an easier berth, but having proved to himself that wasn’t the case, he has asked to ride at No.6 this week.
“We are easy with that because we don’t think one position is better than the other – there is a perception of that but it’s never been our belief.
“Max is a very young lad and is riding at a level he only experienced on a few occasions last season.
Asked if Tigers’ self-obsession to beat Monarchs could trigger mistakes from them, Campbell replied: “Well, our obsession is to beat everybody and obviously there will be a different atmosphere in the stadium on Friday with a lot more visiting fans. And Glasgow will give it a go and I’m just pleased that I know on Friday Glasgow will not roll over. They will not and no matter who is in their team, they will be absolutely determined to do well.”
Campbell added: “Without doubt it will be our hardest match of the season. And while Ipswich were determined to do well, they had travelled 450 miles to reach Armadale and that takes the edge of you.”
It’s a long time since Glasgow won a league fixture at Armadale and Monarchs intend keeping it that way.