Despite the loss of skipper Sam Masters halfway through the meeting following a heavy fall in the first race, Edinburgh Monarchs staged a battling display against Newcastle Diamonds in their Championship clash at Brough Park last night.
The Diamonds triumphed 46-44 but Monarchs won a merited match point.
Monarchs got off to a miserable start in the opening heat when Newcastle’s Robert Lambert and Ashley Morris were quick out of the gate. Masters, lying in third place, made an attempt to go round Morris but clipped him and fell heavily. Masters was excluded and the race awarded 5-1 to the Diamonds giving the home side an early boost.
But Monarchs hit back straight away with a 5-1 from Mitchell Davey and Josh Pickering over Diamonds pair Ben Hopwood and Alfie Bowtell to level 6-6.
The Diamonds moved in front again in heat four when Steve Worrall and Bowtell picked up a 4-2 against Erik Riss and Davey to lead 13-11.
Newcastle’s Stuart Robson got the better of Masters, despite the Monarch leading from the tapes, in the fifth race and with Ludvig Lindgren picking up third place ahead of Theo Pijper, the Diamonds increased their lead to 17-13.
Track grading took place on the second bend after this race with the surface deemed to be too grippy! Monarchs then cut their arrears to just two points when heat six was awarded in Riss’s favour after Lambert fell and Pickering came in third to give the visitors a 4-2.
And Edinburgh levelled the match 24-24 with a 4-2 from Pijper and Davey over Morris and Bowtell in the eighth race which was processional from the gate.
Masters was then withdrawn from the meeting with bruised ribs and the injury rider replacement rule came into force, but it was a blow to Monarchs as the second half got underway. Newcastle pounced with a 5-1 from Robson and Lindgren in heat nine over Riss and Pickering to retake the lead 29-25. Ricky Wells then won heat ten for Monarchs for a share of the spoils and the gap remained at four points.
Newcastle and Monarchs swapped 4-2s in heats 11 and 12 and it was still see-saw stuff with the Diamonds leading 38-34.
Wells won an almost farcical heat 13 which was re-run twice to keep Monarchs’ hopes of victory very much alive. However, Newcastle took a decisive 4-2 in heat 14 to restore their six-point lead with one race to go.
And Riss and Wells stormed to a 5-1 in that last race to earn Monarchs a deserved match point.
Pickering said: “It was good that we got a match point especially after losing Sam early on in the meeting. Halfway through it looked as if we might be on for another away win, but to leave Newcastle with a point is a great result for us, and I was pretty happy with how I rode.”
Newcastle: Worrall 11, Robson 10, Morris 7, Lindgren 7, Lambert 5, Hopwood 4, Bowtell 1.
Monarchs: Wells 16, Riss 11, Pickering 6, Davey 4, Pijper 4, Masters 2, Clegg 1,