Monarchs aim for big first-leg lead in KO Cup semi-final

Ricky Wells
Ricky Wells
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Edinburgh Monarchs’ elimination from the speedway play-offs has left them with just a crack at the Knockout Cup for major silverware this season.

They face Workington Comets in the first leg semi-finals tonight at Armadale and will need a big performance if they are to take a sizeable lead to Derwent Park for the deciding leg tomorrow night. No.1 Ricky Wells believes Monarchs deserve to win something this term, but has warned. “We must regroup a little as a team.”

Workington are fighting on three fronts and Wells is fully aware of how dangerous they can be especially around their own track. “We have got to get a decent lead tonight to begin with, because Workington are a strong side. We ran them close in the league down there not so long ago and hope to get a lot closer to them this time. We have also won at Workington before.”

Monarchs are still hurting from their play-off exit, the first time they haven’t been involved since their inception in 2012. It was a train crash of a home meeting against Berwick Bandits, losing 48-42, which signalled the end of any lingering hopes.

Said Wells: “Halfway through the meeting it was just like a normal Friday night. I was watching in between races and we were down by 12 points and I wondered what was going on. It took until heat eight or nine that I thought ‘we need to pull the finger out’. By that time of course it was too late. It was very disappointing. We had been so strong at Armadale all season, it was extremely gutting to lose out.

“There were no excuses even although the track that night was very wet. Berwick just got on with it, they did not have a problem with the conditions at all. I don’t know why our boys did.”

Monarchs will be without reserve Joel Andersson who injured his leg against Lakeside Hammers and will use Glasgow’s James Sarjeant tonight and Redcar’s Jordan Stewart tomorrow as guest replacements. Wells added: “Joel got his first maximum for Monarchs not so long ago and has come on a lot since he joined. He has been going well round Armadale and will be a loss at the tail-end because I believe the reserves could play a big part in deciding the ties. If we reach the final hopefully he’ll be back.”

Monarchs humbled Workington 65-25 last month in a league encounter at Armadale and a similar scoreline is not out of the question again. “I don’t see why not,” said Wells. “The track was pretty fair that evening and the whole team rode really well. Fifteen or 20 points would be a good lead. We don’t want to go out to Workington on aggregate. We have got to do as much as we can to secure a decent advantage to take to Workington.”

The Comets secured their spot in the semi-finals with a heavy aggregate victory over Newcastle Diamonds in the quarter-final second leg last weekend. But Comets boss Tony Jackson believes it will be much tougher at Armadale this evening. “We were soundly beaten up there a few weeks ago and all that proves is that any result is possible on the day. But we intend giving it our best shot.”