Edinburgh Monarchs preserved their unbeaten Premier League home record with an easy 59-33 victory over an under strength and reluctant Peterborough Panthers side at Armadale last night.
The Panthers had been in full-complaining mode this week about having to fulfil the rearranged speedway clash.
Having dropped out of play-off contention Panthers bosses claimed this was a meaningless meeting and wondered how they would motivate their team.
But had Peterborough accepted Monarchs’ request to return to Armadale last week on a date which fell within the qualifying calendar they still stood a chance of claiming a top-six spot in the table. They blasted the sport’s bosses for not extending the cut-off date for a second time.
They are now blaming everybody but themselves for missing out and have thrown their spanners out of the toolbox for not getting their own way.
And it was not entirely surprising they arrived at the Lothian Arena short handed with just two of their regular team in attendance. And the general consensus was what a two-fingered salute to the paying public.
Their duo Anders Thomsen and Richard Hall are injured. The other three absentees, well ... people will draw their own conclusions.
Monarchs, meanwhile, were still downbeat in the wake of their heavy play-off quarter-final first-leg drubbing at Ipswich Witches on Thursday and gathered for a pep talk with promoter John Campbell to lift their spirits and to go out and defeat even a weakened Panthers team with a degree of conviction.
The match also marked the return of former Monarchs ace Craig Cook in Panthers colours for the first time since he quit Monarchs last winter. Despite heavy clouds above and light rain from time to time track conditions were very surprisingly inviting.
Cook’s highly anticipated showdown against Sam Masters in the first heat resulted in an easy victory for Masters as Monarchs opened their account with a 4-2 advantage.
But Cook was in his pomp in heat five equalling the fastest time of the season, 54.06, as he trounced Erik and Mark Riss for a 3-3 which left the Panthers trailing 17-13.
He said after his victory: “It was awesome to be back and there is nothing better than riding Armadale. I thought I might struggle in my first couple of rides but I was fine and it was like living the dream again.”
Cook added: “I didn’t mind getting beaten by Sam in my first ride because Sam is a good mate of mine and is doing so well this season and I’m proud of him.”
Monarchs were not running away with the match and still only had four points in hand after six races. And that increased to six points in heat seven thanks to a 4-2 from Kevin Wolbert and Max Clegg.
Monarchs then grabbed their first 5-1 of the meeting in heat eight and that increased their lead to ten points, 29-19, and they were now breathing a bit more easily.
The Capital outfit kept their foot on the gas with two further 5-1s in heats nine and ten which put them almost out of sight of the Panthers who now trailed 39-21.
And that prompted them to hand a double-points tactical outing to Cook in the next heat to help reduce their arrears. However, Cook was thwarted by Wolbert who won his third race of the evening and the Panthers had to settle for a shared 4-4 result which was of no real benefit to them.
Monarchs were now coasting it and a 4-2 from Masters, who defeated Cook for a second time, and Wolbert in heat 13 helped Monarchs to a 51-29 lead which comfortably clinched the match with two races to spare.
Top scorer Wolbert, who only dropped two points from his five rides, said: “I was happy with how I rode and it was a lot better than I managed at Ipswich on Thursday.”
Monarchs: Wolbert 13, Masters 12, E Riss 9, Clegg 9, M Riss 8 Fisher 6, Blacklock 2.
Peterborough: Cook 13, Ostergaard 6, Etheridge 5, Wethers 5, Rutherford 2, Wallinger 2.