Clash with Berwick is an all-or-nothing tie for Monarchs

Josh Pickering believes beating Berwick will not be hard
Josh Pickering believes beating Berwick will not be hard
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Edinburgh Monarchs’ play-off hopes now lie outwith their hands but team manager Alex Harkess has stressed how important it is to ensure they see off Berwick Bandits tonight at Armadale in their final league match of the regular season.

Monarchs blew their chance to make life easier for themselves by getting thumped 56-34 by Glasgow Tigers at Ashfield on Tuesday, failing to lift even a match point from the one-sided encounter in which top three, Ricky Wells, Erik Riss, and Richie Worrall in particular, performed way below standards allowing Glasgow free rein to run riot. And the Tigers beat Ipswich by 49 points to 41 in Suffolk last night thus securing their play-off berth. However, Monarchs still can qualify.

Harkess reflected: “We were just very very poor, our top three were non existent, we were just not competitive at all.”

Worrall, a Glasgow rider until a few weeks ago, picked up just one point which was mystifying, Harkess adding: “I wish I could give a reason for how he went, I cannot get my head around his display.”

On the claims that Monarchs were “not up” for the most important derby clash for years Harkess said: “No such thing, we got off to a poor start when we lost a 5-1 in the very first race and that was very disappointing, but there could be no excuses, we were just so poor. We should have realised that it was a very big match for us and our performance, with a couple of exceptions, was unacceptable. It would not have been the end of the world had we not won, but been in contention for a point, but we were miles away from that.”

Broc Nicol, who hadn’t been to Ashfield before, guested for the injured Joel Andersson and picked up seven points and Harkess added: “He did very well considering he hadn’t seen the place before and Josh Pickering was good value as well.”

Berwick are out of contention for the play-offs but picked up an away point at league leaders Peterborough Panthers last weekend so they cannot be dismissed lightly.

Harkess said: “They will be very much up for the match and it is up to us to stop them.

“Most of the Berwick team have ridden Armadale many times before, they will present a challenge and a danger. If we have any play-off hopes at all, we have to win, it’s a simple as that. We are unbeaten in the league at home but we have to makes sure we collect all three points.

“The riders themselves will be well aware of what happened and will have to respond in front of their own supporters.

“The mentality of a big defeat is to get it out of your system and replace it with a better performance. I just hope that happens this evening.”

Pickering picked up ten points against the Tigers and was reluctant to point the finger at others. “We knew it was going to be a tough meeting for us, the Tigers team just dominated, it was just one of those nights. I don’t want to comment on the performances of the other boys, in truth I was too busy concentrating on my own job.”

On his double-figure return Pickering said: “It was good, and I have had a good run for the past month. The Tigers were just too strong for us, simple as that.”

Pickering is optimistic that victory over Berwick is achievable. “I have no worries about them, everything should be okay for us.”