Edinburgh Monarchs’ new-look team are very much back in the race to reach the end of season play-offs according to team manager Alex Harkess who is still purring over last week’s record equalling 69-21 home humbling of Redcar Bears.
As Monarchs prepare to face Scunthorpe Scorpions in a Championship League match at Armadale tonight, Harkess insisted that while the Bears could have provided stronger opposition, his revamped team did everything that was asked of them, with four riders, captain Erik Riss, Ricky Wells, Richie Worrall, and Josh Pickering, all unbeaten against the Teessiders.
Harkess said: “Nobody is saying that there wasn’t anything last Friday that was not satisfactory from our point of view. The team did everything that was required of them, nobody could have asked them to do more.”
Monarchs have Berwick Bandits in their sights now, and the clashes with them home and away next weekend could prove to be crucial as Monarchs hunt down a top four qualification spot. The Bandits are fourth on 22 points with Monarchs in sixth place on 17 points, but the Bandits have ridden four more matches.
However, Harkess pointed out: “Berwick are very strong at home and defeated Glasgow heavily last weekend and were unlucky not get something from Ashfield seven days ago too.
“We will still go to Berwick with our aim of trying to get something out of the match.
“Every match is a target at the end of the day. We have got to try and finish in that top four and that is what we must try to achieve.
“Our initial aim was not to drop any points at home and pick up what we could away from home, and nothing has changed in this regard.
“An away win from somewhere to go with our success at Redcar a few weeks ago, would make a world of difference to us.”
Harkess said it was difficult to gauge just how good Monarchs were against Redcar at home because it was far from a stiff test. He said: “There is no benefit in winning a race by 50 or a 100 yards. Our team didn’t always make the gate, but they came from behind to pass the Bears riders and that was pleasing to see.”
Max Clegg returned to the team at reserve replacing Max Ruml and scored four points but Harkess believes it is unfair to compare him to the misfiring Californian racer.
“Against similar opposition Ruml might have scored just as many points. We now have seven riders who are with us for the rest of the season, and there is no sense in comparing one with another.”
Debutant Clegg commented: “I felt really nervous before the meeting, I don’t really know why. But once I got out on track I felt a lot better and was basically satisfied with how things worked out .”
Monarchs No.1 Ricky Wells said the Armadale track was “really grippy” against Redcar and insisted that is the way the whole team prefer it.
Wells hinted if it was like that every week the team could easily pile up a huge points total again, but Harkess said: “The track was especially good last week, but you cannot guarantee it will be the same very week.
“The weather will doubtless change in the coming weeks, but certainly track conditions were as near perfect as we could get them for the Redcar match.”
New signing Worrall, who now fills the important third heat leader role, was pleased with his bow and said: “Sure it was certainly easy riding with these guys (team-mates) than against them.
“It was nice for me to enjoy my speedway again, things have been a bit hard for me of late. It was just a pity Redcar were not a lot stronger. It would have given us the chance to show what we can really do, but I’m already looking forward to tonight’s meeting against Scunthorpe. This will be more of a test for the guys I hope.”
Harkess concluded: “Our changed team has been judged on just one match, which was a very easy match. The changes were made to bolster the squad, we believe over a period of them, this will prove to be the case.
“At one time we were out of contention for a place in the top four, and now we are very much in it. It’s in our own hands now. And our first priority is to make sure we beat Scunthorpe this evening.”