REACHING the speedway play-offs means anything achieved in the regular season counts for nothing now. So Edinburgh Monarchs’ recent victory at Ipswich Witches, their semi-final opponents, must be wiped from the memory banks.
Monarchs team manager Alex Harkess nevertheless feels Monarchs have nothing to fear in tonight’s first leg tie at Foxhall Heath.
“We don’t fear going there. It’s the first leg and we have to make sure to come back for the deciding leg at Armadale with a close score, and that is what we expect.”
Harkess knows, however, that a poor performance could spell the end of Monarchs’ dreams of lifting a sixth British league title during their tenure at Armadale.
He said: “We have always worked from the same principle over the years that it is right on the borderline if it’s a ten-point defeat you suffer in the first match.
“If you can keep it down to ten then the tie swings in your favour. If it’s more than ten then it swings in Ipswich’s favour.
“You can live with a ten-point loss because you think you have a chance over two legs.”
Matches between the sides have been close this season which holds out the prospect of the play-off clashes resting on a knife edge. Said Harkess: “That is absolutely right, we have got seven riders who are not absolutely sure of what they are going to do. Equally they are also capable of achieving anything. It will be interesting and it will be close.”
The key man for Monarchs tonight could be German star Erik Riss who has been in fine form of late and scored a paid maximum in the triumph at Workington Comets at the weekend which clinched their qualification.
Riss, a very single minded rider, said: “I think we can do well in the play-offs. At this stage of the season I think the whole team need to speak, sit together, and think about how we go on.
“We are only two steps away from the trophy, we don’t have a bad team, we have a good team.
“But a couple of riders often score under their potential. If we stick together and help each other out, which in my opinion we don’t do enough of sometimes, then I think we can win the league.”
Sheffield Tigers take on Glasgow Tigers in the other semi-final first leg tonight but Harkess isn’t thinking about the final.
He added: “We’ll worry about it if we get to the final and who we might face.
“It’s one step at a time right now, overcoming Ipswich is our first priority.”