Edinburgh Monarchs were short handed at Newcastle Diamonds last night and the home team took full advantage.
Minus the injured Ryan Fisher and Erik Riss who was ordered to race in Europe or face a ban, Monarchs went down 33-27 in a curtailed Premier League speedway clash to keep them in fifth place in the table. It now seems likely that Monarchs will need to win four of their last five home fixtures to guarantee their play-off spot and that won’t be easy with leaders Somerset Rebels and a revamped Peterborough Panthers squad still to visit Armadale.
Newcastle, perhaps the dark horses for the championship, suffered an early setback in heat two when reserve star Lewis Rose was taken to hospital after crashing out on the third and fourth bends of the last lap, which handed Monarchs duo Dan Bewley and Max Clegg an unexpected 5-1 advantage to lead 8-4 at this stage after the opening race was shared.
There was a long delay while a second ambulance arrived at the stadium and on the resumption Newcastle quickly levelled the scores with a 5-1 from Ludvig Lindgren and Matej Kus over Kevin Wolbert and Mark Riss.
Monarchs nipped in front again with a 4-2 in heat four but Newcastle repaid the compliment in the next race to square the scores once more, 15-15.
Despite their depleted squad Monarchs were giving the Diamonds a bit of a run for their money. However a brace of 4-2s then put the Diamonds in front by four points after seven heats.
But Monarchs were digging in on a circuit which has brought them a fair degree of success in the past and a 4-2 from Wolbert, his first win of the night, and Clegg in the ninth race cut Newcastle’s lead in half and it was now game on. Clegg rode brilliantly to beat Lindgren for third place.
Newcastle then made a decisive strike in heat 10 with a 5-1 from Robert Lambert and Victor Palovaara against Riss and guest replacement Ben Hopwood to put them six points to the good, 33-27.
Monarchs ace Bewley, who had scored ten points from four outings, then went wide coming out of the second bend in heat 11 and crashed heavily taking his skipper Sam Masters down with him. Masters got to his feet but the ambulance was called on track for Bewley who thankfully also got to his feet but was taken to hospital after another lengthy delay to get checked over, although it was announced he had not broken any bones in the pile-up.
The meeting was then abandoned because of the time curfew at Newcastle with the 33-27 scoreline standing, earning Monarchs a precious match point which they probably did not think was on given they were minus two key riders.
Newcastle: Palovaara 8, Lambert 7, Kus 7, Worrall 5, Lindgren 4, Phillips 2, Rose 0.
Monarchs: Bewley 10, Wolbert 7, Masters 5, Clegg 4, M.Riss 1, Hopwood 0.