Edinburgh Monarchs bring down the curtain on the 2018 Armadale speedway season when they face Glasgow Tigers in the second leg of the Scottish Cup tonight in a match rained off at the start of the year.
The hosts trail by ten points from the first leg at Ashfield and will hope to overturn that deficit to end their campaign on a winning note.
Monarchs team manager Alex Harkess confessed the season has petered out for his team in the wake of their KO Cup semi-final demise at Workington Comets when they let slip a mammoth 28-point first-leg advantage last weekend. The result torpedoed any chance they had of securing some major silverware this year after they failed to reach the Championship play-offs.
Harkess said: “We simply did not adapt to the track conditions which were the same for both teams.
“But when I see clouds of dust in heat one I knew then the track had not been done properly. But that was the way Workington chose to do it and it was up to us to adapt, and we did not do so. It was extremely disappointing from our point of view.”
An inescapable shortcoming this season has been the inconsistency of the Monarchs heat leaders away from home but Harkess insisted that now is not the time for reriminations or inquests. “It’s happened,” he said. “We cannot turn back the clock.”
With the Championship and Premiership divisions set to be retained in 2019 despite rumours of a planned amalgamation, Harkess noted: “One thing in our favour is our combined team average is not too high this year. There will be cuts to the team, as there always are, but nothing too drastic.
“It’s hard to say what our team will be right now because nobody is quite sure what is happening next season with regards to the points limit, etc.”
Australian Josh Pickering was one of the few success stories at Workington and Monarchs will look to him to lead the fightback against the Tigers.
And after Pickering made it clear that he wants to be a Monarch again next term his name is likely to be the first on the team roster, although he has caught the eye of at least one of Monarchs’ Championship rivals.
Glasgow, who face Workington in the play-off semi-finals next weekend, will still want to triumph despite having bigger fish to fry. Added Harkess: “We want to end on a high and you don’t enter any competition unless you want to win and that includes the Scottish Cup.
“We’ll do our best to wipe out our deficit from the first leg and it should make for an interesting match for sure.”