Double-header against Comets is key to Monarchs’ play-off bid

Richie Worrall, left, and Josh Pickering, centre, battle with Glasgow's  Paul Starke and Chris Harris
Richie Worrall, left, and Josh Pickering, centre, battle with Glasgow's Paul Starke and Chris Harris
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Edinburgh Monarchs are aiming to bring down Workington Comets at Armadale tonight knowing that failure would spell the end of their bid to make the Championship League speedway play-offs.

And knowing that Workington have already defeated Monarchs this season at the Lothian Arena makes this encounter an intriguing match-up.

Monarchs promoter John Campbell believes his side need four more away points to make absolutely certain of securing their qualification spot whilst not dropping any at home.

Campbell said: “This is what we need to do and hope that other teams lose the opportunity of picking up points away from home.”

Monarchs have been rampant at home since the acquisition of Richie Worrall as third heat leader and their 56-33 demolition of local rivals Glasgow Tigers on Friday simply underlined how cohesive the squad has become.

Said Campbell: “I was pleasantly surprised by the outcome and also the performance of Glasgow’s guest Ben Barker who was their top scorer with 14. He was replacing Craig Cook who might have scored a 15-point maximum. There wasn’t much fight from Glasgow to be honest and Chris Harris was a major disappointment for them.”

Had it not been for separate falls from Monarchs skipper Erik Riss and Worrall, Glasgow’s total would have been even more impoverished.

Monarchs appear to be peaking at just the right time, reinforcing Campbell’s view that it’s not important what you do early in the season, it’s what you achieve at this stage that really counts. He said: “Of course it’s not like us to make changes to the team as we did a few weeks ago, but we felt it was the right thing to do to help us and hopefully make the play-offs.

“The team has a bit of confidence about it now and everybody believes we can go all the way.”

Workington’s 46-44 triumph in the Championship Shield in June was a setback that hurt Campbell who recalled: “I was hugely disappointed by that result but things were different then, we are a stronger team now.”

Monarchs travel to Derwent Park to face the Comets in the return match tomorrow and the match is just as critically important. Said Campbell: “Much will depend on who Workington get to replace the injured Dan Bewley. Also Rene Back moves into their team proper swapping places with Mason Campton who drops to reserve, and I think that makes them weaker.

“But we have got a track specialist in Ricky Wells and I think the Workington circuit will suit our reserve Joel Andersson who has been riding well of late.

“I’m sure we will make it tough for Workington round their own place and I would like to think we can leave with some sort of reward.”

Monarchs are fourth in the table, the final qualifying place.

Campbell went on: “Peterborough and Lakeside are probably too far ahead of us, so our target is to hang on to that fourth position which was helped by us getting two points in our draw at Sheffield last week, I was delighted with that.”

With last Sunday’s derby against Glasgow at Ashfield washed out by the weather the re-staging of it could prove important with the Tigers fearful of what Monarchs might do.

Campbell concluded: “They would have to have been blind to what was going on at Armadale to think they had a chance of winning in the first place on Friday. Glasgow simply didn’t have enough track experts in their team.”

Captain Riss said: “It was a good all-round team performance, we all rode well and there is a belief now that we can end the season on a high, the team is riding with lots of 
confidence, we just need to keep it going.”

• Monarchs’ washed-out fixture against Glasgow Tigers will now take place at Ashfield on Tuesday, September 11 at 7.30pm