If Edinburgh Monarchs team manager Alex Harkess believes retrieving a 24-point deficit against Glasgow Tigers is an impossible task, he refuses to admit it publicly.
Monarchs face the mammoth task against their derby rivals in tonight’s Premier League KO Cup speedway quarter-final second leg tie at Armadale Stadium.
But he does concede that muzzling the Tigers to earn a place in the semi-finals against Somerset Rebels will require a performance of some distinction from his squad.
Harkess said: “It is going to be very difficult for us there is no question about that. If we were going anywhere with a 24-point lead we’d be feeling very comfortable and Glasgow will feel the same.
“You are hoping for miracles on the night and we will certainly be giving it everything we have got.”
Monarchs’ 54-30 setback in the first leg at Ashfield drew stinging criticism from many quarters and Harkess admitted: “We were simply not good enough, in fact we were pretty average and that was the result we came away with as a consequence; we can’t change it now.”
When quizzed about their poor display, skipper Sam Masters reflected: “Conditions at Glasgow were not good but it was the same for both teams. We have certainly made life hard for ourselves and will have to produce something special to go through.”
While there are no cast-iron strategies in place to effect a rescue mission, Harkess is adamant on one thing: “It’s not just a question of our top four doing their jobs because our reserves are just as capable of winning the match.
“Our top four can be wonderful but they cannot wipe out our arrears on their own, everybody needs to score to the best of their ability. Obviously it’s important that we get off to a good start because that builds confidence which filters down to the whole team.”
But could Monarchs’ talismanic rookie Dan Bewley be the man to rattle the big spending Tigers? The youngster was a guest rider for Somerset in their top-of-the-table clash against Glasgow at Ashfield on Sunday and top scored for the visitors with 13 points, securing all three match points for them.
It was an astonishing display from the teenager who is very much in demand as a guest rider and is blossoming in to a performer with a burgeoning pedigree. But Harkess revealed: “Dan is very attractive as a guest rider for other clubs up and down the country because he is a three-point rider. However, from September his average goes above that so he will no longer be able to guest for a club as a three-point reserve replacement. But he is certainly riding very well and this is very pleasing for ourselves.”
It has been claimed that Monarchs had the chance to snap up Bewley as their own asset at the beginning of the season but failed to seize the opportunity. Said Harkess: “That is not the case. When we invited Dan to our press and practice day to try out he was a free agent. When he arrived at the practice two days after we had spoken to him he had signed for Belle Vue, it was just one these things.”
Bewley’s current hot-streak is certainly giving his tail-end partner Max Clegg plenty to chew on.
Clegg was outscored by Bewley at Somerset and Sheffield last week. Clegg, however, picked up eight points for Monarchs in their last Armadale meeting against Rye House Rockets and he needs to replicate that or be better to put the Tigers reserves on the back foot and give Edinburgh a flicker of hope of pulling off what would be a sensational comeback by anyone’s standards.
But Tigers boss Stewart Dickson wants his team to win the second leg as well to atone for that loss against Somerset at the weekend. He said: “It was a kick up the backside we didn’t want but got it. Now it’s all about getting a reaction from the boys this evening.”
Meanwhile, Monarchs have announced they will race Glasgow in the league at home on Friday September 9.