Edinburgh Monarchs complete their Championship league programme with a trip to face Peterborough Panthers at the east of England Showground on Sunday. But trying to pick the team up following Friday’s play-off semi-final loss to Ipswich Witches at Armadale won’t be easy.
Ipswich were there for the taking and Monarchs blew a golden chance of reaching the play-off Grand Final for the first time since 2015 when they won their fifth league title.
With Ipswich No.1 Danny King only scoring a measly four points, Monarchs should have cashed in but were eventually undone by former Monarch Rory Schlein, who won the last race to take Ipswich through with just three points to spare on aggregate.
Monarchs skipper Sam Masters reflected: “It was so disappointing to lose, but we ran too many last places and made too many mistakes – including me – and we paid for it.
“Let’s not forget Ipswich are a good team with good riders and all of them are capable of scoring points, but we really should have qualified.”
Monarchs’ German rider Erik Riss, unbeaten until the final race, said: “In the final heat I clashed elbows with Rory (Schlein) then tried to cut back underneath him down the back straight and thought I could pass him with Sam (Masters) in front.
“But Rory then passed Sam and that was that.”
There was a palpable air of depression at the end of the match and Monarchs team manager Alex Harkess said: “I thought we were capable of overturning our ten-point first leg deficit and we got off to the perfect start with a 5-1 in the opening race. But things came apart after that and the momentum swung in Ipswich’s favour.”
Once again Monarchs reserves Max Clegg and Mitchell Davey were toiling and were outscored 11-5 by their Ipswich counterparts Nathan Greaves and Connor Mountain. Davey in particular had a terrible home leg and failed to score and that lay at the hub of Monarchs problems. Ricky Wells, who moved to No.1 in the averages, commented: “The loss was a tough one to take. I thought a ten-point deficit could be overcome, but it wasn’t to be. When Erik and I got that 5-1 in heat 13 the door opened for us to step through again.
“But Ipswich shared the last two races and that was good enough to take them through. Rory, who knows Armadale well, was in awesome form for Ipswich and he made a big difference.”
Monarchs co-promoter John Campbell added: “It was very disappointing to lose out, but as has happened at certain points during the season, some riders didn’t ride to their potential.”