Edinburgh Monarchs travel to Sheffield Tigers tonight for the second leg of their KO Cup quarter-final tie with just four points in hand, but promoter John Campbell is not writing off his team’s chance of making it through to the semi-finals, though he does concede it will be a difficult task.
Campbell is convinced they still have a realistic opportunity of defending their wafer-thin first-leg advantage and said: “We’ll be going there with that intention and if Glasgow can hold Sheffield to two points, as they did last week, then so can we.”
Sheffield will doubtless already think they have booked their semi-final passage but Campbell added: “Let’s hope that thought is in their minds. It gives us a better chance of going through.”
Despite being without two of their top riders, Josh Grajczonek and Lasse Bjerre, Sheffield came very close to winning the first leg at Armadale and their performance in losing just 47-43 surprised Campbell. “I was very surprised they got that close. I was expecting us to win by 20 points, so it was disappointing that we only ended up with a four-point lead.”
Reserve Mitchell Davey recalled: “Sheffield had a better all-round bike set-up that evening and gated much better than we did. We were caught out, but I think we can go there and give it our best shot, that’s all we can do. Sheffield are a very strong team with a lot of talented riders and it’s not going to be easy.”
Campbell has already stated that Monarchs won’t win another away match if their heat leaders win just four races between them as they did at Workington Comets recently.
Campbell said: “Sheffied have a group of riders that can perform on the day, we’ll just have to make sure that our riders perform on the day also. Sam Masters is back at No.1 tonight and he showed last Friday against Peterborough that he was back to his best.
“Sam will be out in heat one again so hopefully we will make a good start to the match. Sheffield is a better place for Sam to be than Workington was.”
Said Masters: “We would have liked a bigger lead for sure, but if we all ride as a team there’s no reason why we can’t qualify for the semi-finals.”
Monarchs’ German star Erik Riss was unhappy with his display against Peterborough and Campbell pointed out: “If Erik is not scoring maximums, and he’s only had one so far this season, he isn’t happy.
“He should be scoring maxmiums every match, and when he doesn’t he’s gets very unhappy.”
Max Clegg could be a pivotal rider for Monarchs at the tail-end. Said Campbell: “Max is not a big track specialist so Sheffield might not suit him. But you expect your No.6 rider to score five or six points in every meeting. If he could manage then it would be a huge bonus for us.
“He has just got to believe he will win races and he will. He’s also got to believe he can do it on big tracks as well.”
Mark Riss will be back for Monarchs and he guested for Sheffield earlier in the season and scored 14 points. Added Campbell: “It’s easier to ride for the home side against the visitors who are not used to the track. He’ll not do as well this time as he did in the guest booking.”
Sheffield boss Damian Bates said: “It was a patched-up team that turned up at Armadale for the first leg and we would have taken that result beforehand. I think we have a good chance of going through.”