Harkess remains confident Monarchs will make top four

Ricky Wells top scored for Monarchs
Ricky Wells top scored for Monarchs
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Edinburgh Monarchs team manager Alex Harkess is still confident his team will make the play-offs despite losing to Redcar Bears on Teesside on Thursday.

The victory has allowed Bears to close the gap to just two points in the battle for the fourth and final play-off berth.

And with Monarchs not having a match this week, Redcar can push them down to fifth in the table if they defeat Ipswich Witches at home, although they will have completed two more meetings than Edinburgh.

Monarchs got off to a disastrous start to the match conceding 5-1s in the first three heats, something they couldn’t recover from and went down to a 52-41 defeat.

But Harkess insists Monarchs are not feeling the pressure. He said: “I don’t think we are. We have still got to go to places I believe we can win at and it’s very much still in our own hands.

“No away matches are easy. I’ve never thought that. It’s all about what you get on the night when you get there. Hopefully we’ll be back to a full seven-man team shortly and we’ll see what happens after that.”

Harkess says going 15-3 down after just three races was “disappointing” adding: “It was always going to be an uphill struggle after that, there’s nothing we can do about it now.”

Redcar will strike a psychological blow against Monarchs if they prevail against Ipswich. But that is not something that worries Harkess. “They will have ridden two more matches than us, it’s then up to us to control things. It’s unfortunate that we don’t have a match this week, but that’s how things pan out sometimes.”

Ricky Wells was Monarchs’ outstanding performer at Redcar, top scoring with 15 points which included a double-points tactical outing, but his meeting began in controversial fashion. He hit a hole in the track going into the first bend and was excluded from his first race when he fell off.

“I certainly got off to a bad start but recovered to score well,” he said. “Redcar is a tough place to go to because there are so many different racing lines to choose from. Also, they have some real chargers in their team like Jason Garrity and Ben Barker who put you under pressure.

“I thought we did quite well after we lost those three 5-1s but we just have to move on from that setback and bounce back. However, we need everyone in the team scoring from now on.”

Harkess added: “I’m confident we’ll clinch that fourth place. I always have been and nothing I have seen has made me change my opinion.”

Monarchs will make a third attempt to stage the Caledonian Riders Championship at Armadale on Friday. Monarchs’ match against Buxton Hitmen will now take place later in the season.