Monarchs head for Peterborough bearing a grudge

Peterborough top scorer Scott Nicholls beats Erik Riss
Peterborough top scorer Scott Nicholls beats Erik Riss
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By common consent Peterborough Panthers fully merited the match point they gained against Edinburgh Monarchs in their Championship league clash at Armadale last Friday.

However, Monarchs team manager Alex Harkess was the exception feeling the Panthers were “very lucky” to leave with a point.

As Monarchs head to the East of England Showground for the return match on Sunday, Harkess insisted: “It wasn’t a point lost to us because we got the three points we wanted. They got a point they probably did not deserve because we let them back into the match.

“On another day I don’t think we would let them back into the match nearly as much as we did. They won’t get another match at Armadale where our captain Erik Riss doesn’t win a single race.”

Peterborough claimed they were unfortunate not to win the match outright but were satisfied with the outcome, promoter Ged Rathbone saying: “Not many teams will go to Edinburgh this year and leave with something so we were delighted with the point.”

Without doubt the true star of Peterborough’s closely fought battle with the Capital side was the outstanding performance of Scott Nicholls who made only his second appearance at the Lothian Arena in 20 years and amassed paid 18 points from seven outings including a brilliant victory in heat 13 over Monarchs’ top duo of Erik Riss and Ricky Wells.

Nicholls said afterwards: “It won’t be another 20 years till I come back. It took me a race or two to settle myself in after so long away. But Armadale is a small technical track and these are the ones I like.”

Harkess said: “It did not make much difference. Nicholls has been around long enough and our track held no problems for him.

“He kept Peterborough in with a chance because he was given seven rides. And because of certain concerns over the make-up of the Peterborough team, he kept them in the hunt – but they were still lucky to get a point.

“You take your luck when you get it.”

Harkess revealed his skipper Erik Riss was plagued by certain machine problems which explained the German’s failure to win a race.

“Erik couldn’t get his bike to go, it was flat. He spent half the meeting thinking it was his carburetor to blame but it turned out to be something else.

“It’s sorted now and I’ll be surprised if it happens again.

“When Erik is in full flow he’ll beat anybody at Armadale. He may not have been as dominant as he usually can be, but the rest of the team chipped in with something and got us over the line.”

One thing did make Harkess relatively happpy and that was the display of Joel Andersson. The Swede scored six points, including winning heat eight with partner Josh Pickering.

Said Harkess: “He looked very confident and you expect your No.2 to win heat eight, but he delivered a paid win before that. Joel certainly looked the part; he didn’t look in any danger. He looked very comfortable and that’s what we expect from him.”

Andersson commented: “I felt a lot more confident with my bike and I was really happy that the whole team managed to get the victory on the night.”

Harkess feels Monarchs are in with a real chance of pinching something from Peterborough on Sunday. “We will be going there with the same attitude Peterborough brought to our place a week ago.

“We have got a team of riders who have done well down there at one time or another. Whether they can do it at the same time we’ll have to wait and see.”

Meanwhile, Armadale stages the Scottish Open Championship (7.15pm) this evening sponsored by Harrisons Ford Centre.

And if supporters are looking for a home win then Wells or Erik Riss may deliver the 
silverware.

Added Harkess: “Ricky is certainly the man in form and is gating very well and he’ll take some beating. Erik feels he can definitely win it and fancies his chances. They are the obvious choices, although Mark Riss is capable of winning races against anyone but doesn’t do it consistently.”

Previous winners Rory Schein and Sam Masters, who triumphed in 2014, are among the 16-man field and may pose the biggest threat.

Masters said: “I was at Armadale a couple of weeks ago to say hello to everyone. I was stoked to be back and think I have got a chance of repeating my previous success in the event.”