Edinburgh Monarchs bowed out of the speedway play-offs in dramatic fashion at Armadale tonight. T
Trailing Ipswich Witches by ten points on aggregate, the Capital side put up a brave fight and although they won the semi-final second leg 48-41 they lost over the two legs by just three points.
It was an agonising loss and the match went down to a deciding last heat which Ipswich shared 3-3 to grab the glory.
Monarchs team manager Alex Harkess said: “It was tough to go out on aggregate by just three points, but we gave everything we had. It wasn’t to be.”
Monarchs made the perfect start in the first heat when Ricky Wells and Josh Pickering stormed to a 5-1 over Witches No.1 Danny King who retired with engine failure, and Mason Campton, and at a stroke Monarchs’ arrears were reduced to just six points.
But Monarchs unfortunately handed the advantage back to the Witches in the second race when Nathan Greaves and Connor Mountain got the better of Max Clegg and Mitchell Davey to restore their ten point aggregate lead with the scores tied 6-6 on the night.
However, Monarchs hit back again straight away with their second 5-1 of the match, skipper Sam Masters and Mark Riss, who had passed himself fit to ride after missing the first leg, headed home Witches duo Campton and Kyle Newman to lead 11-7 after three heats.
Masters, who looked to be dominant early on, won the fifth heat and, with Mark Riss claiming third place, this vital 4-2 over King pushed Monarchs 18-12 in front and the aggregate deficit was clawed back to four points.
It was nip and tuck stuff and Ipswich grabbed a 4-2 through Rory Schlein and Greaves in the sixth race and with the seventh heat shared, Erik Riss winning it for Monarchs, the home side led 23-19 and the overall deficit was now six points.
Disaster then struck for Monarchs in heat eight when both Pickering and then Clegg fell off handing a 5-0 verdict to Schlein and Greaves. Now Ipswich led 24-23 on the night and increased their aggregate advantage to 11 points. Monarchs were back at square one.
Schlein looked to have slowed down on the third bend and this had a bearing on Clegg tumbling off. And when Masters retired in heat nine, he was in last place anyway, Ipswich shared the points 3-3 which simply played into their hands to protect their lead.
And it could have become worse for Monarchs in the next race. Ipswich duo Campton and Newman gated on a 5-1 but Campton tumbled off on the third bend. Newman took the chequered flag regardless and Ricky Wells and Pickering had to settle for a share of the spoils.
Monarchs’ hopes looked decidedly shaky at this stage.
Monarchs reserves Davey and Clegg were being outscored by their Ipswich counterparts Mountain and Greaves and this had a telling effect. A 4-2 from Erik Riss and Clegg over King in the 11th heat nosed Monarchs in front 33-32 on the night with four heats to race.
Another 4-2 from Masters and Clegg put Monarchs ahead 37-34 but they were still seven points down on aggregate after 12 races.
The home fans were given hope in the 13th race when Schlein was excluded leaving Wells and Erik Riss to pick up an easy 5-1 against Mountain and this put Monarchs seven ahead on the night and only three points down on aggregate.
However, Ipswich shared the penultimate race requiring Monarchs to score a 5-1 to win and go through to the Final.
And it was Schlein who dashed Monarchs’ dream when he won heat 15 for a share of the spoils.
Monarchs: E Riss 12, Masters 11, Wells 10, M Riss 7, Clegg 5, Pickering 3, Davey 0.
Ipswich: Schlein 13, Newman 8, Mountain 6, Greaves 5, Campton 5, King 4.