Some of Edinburgh Monarchs’ lesser known speedway starlets were given their big chance in the spotlight at Armadale last night when they tackled Belle Vue Colts in an intermediate challenge fixture.
But it was the Colts who shot down Monarchs 45-43 after a nailbiting last-heat decider which left the home side slightly stunned after leading for most of the match.
Colts owe their win to an outstanding display from hero Dan Bewley, who ironically is also Monarchs’ reserve star at senior level. He stormed to a flawless six-ride maximum.
Monarchs promoter John Campbell was keen that two of his senior team members, Max Clegg and Jye Etheridge, were given some extra track time to try and sharpen them up for the Premier League.
It was a shop window for Etheridge in particular with Campbell saying: “We need to get Jye involved in the action rather than looking good from a long way behind. Hopefully this will launch his career in this country.”
Etheridge did not start promisingly, falling off on his own in heat three. But the young Aussie claimed second place behind Colts ace Bewley in the rerun. This was Bewley’s second win in two races and the teenager, opposing his Edinburgh team-mates on this occasion, looked pretty impressive.
Two of the most experienced riders in the Monarchs squad were Mitchell Davey and William Lawson and the pair put their knowledge of the Lothian Arena to full use in heat five when they romped to a 5-1 against Matt Williamson edging the home side in front 16-13.
And that lead was maintained in the very next race when Clegg, who was skipper for one night only, took the chequered flag with ease. Clegg seems to have rekindled his lost confidence and looked very upbeat. He came in to the match having scored a respectable seven points for Monarchs at Ipswich Witches 24 hours earlier.
Etheridge was making strides and won heat seven quite comfortably without looking a world beater – and kept Monarchs in front.
Bewley won his third outing of the night in the eighth heat, victorious by a country mile against Monarchs ace Kev Whelan, a race with just two finishers. This reduced Belle Vue’s arrears to just two points, 24-22 and the Manchester outfit were by no means out of it. Indeed, the Colts’ form in the National League has been highly commendable so far; they have won three of their opening four fixtures.
And the visitors levelled the scores, 26-26 in heat nine when Bewley and Lee Payne grabbed a 4-2 over Davey and Lawson, who fell and was excluded.
Victory for Clegg in heat ten kept the scores tied and while the racing certainly did not warrant a “Ten from Len” the outcome of the clash was at least holding fans’ interest.
The rain which had been falling suddenly got heavier making track conditions very tricky for some of the youngsters.
Monarchs then sneaked ahead once more in heat 12 thanks to a 4-2 from Davey and Whelan. Monarchs now led 36-34 and scented the winning post.
Clegg ruined his possible maximum hopes in heat 13 when he missed the start and tumbled off trying to get past his Colts rivals in a race which was shared 3-3.
But the Colts were not yet finished and a 4-2 from unbeaten Bewley and Tom Woolley in the penultimate race squared matters at 41-41 setting up a dramatic last-heat decider.
And it was Belle Vue who prevailed at the death when Bewley, completing an 18-point maximum, combined with partner Rob Shuttleworth for the 4-2 which earned them overall victory by two points, 45-43.
Monarchs: Etheridge 11, Clegg 11, Davey 9, Lawson 7, Whelan 3, Millar 2, Lamb 0.
Belle Vue: Bewley 18, Shutteworth 9, Williamson 7, Payne 5, Woolley 3, Holt 2, Basford 1.