Speedway: Season-opener ends in a narrow defeat

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EDINBURGH Monarchs boss John Campbell today said he was encouraged by his team’s performance in their opening League Cup speedway fixture at Redcar Bears last night despite losing 49-41 at the Teessiders’ home.

Campbell thought there were plenty of positives to take from the match and was also impressed by the debut scores of new reserve pairing Charles Wright and Micky Dyer, who picked up seven and five points respectively.

“Every member of the side had their moments,” said Campbell. “But we did not provide enough race winners and that was our downfall, however everybody did something to make me think there is a lot to be encouraged about.”

Given that Monarchs suffered so many problems at the tail-end last season, Dyer and Wright’s displays are surely a cause for optimism.

Said Campbell: “Although he was not our top scorer, Charles was probably our most impressive rider in relation to what we were expecting, and Micky must be pleased with his display.

“He won his first ride in heat two then made a mess of his next couple of outings before collecting a second place behind Matthew (Wethers) in his last outing.

“But I think Micky now knows he also has to improve his physical fitness.”

Wright said: “I felt good and I was also gating quite well, I made a couple of mistakes in once race but overall I was happy with my performance.

“It’s always good to get the first match of the season out of the way, but I’ve been given a boost by starting well and I feel more confident now.”

The racing was interrupted when Redcar veteran and former world champ, Gary Havelock, slipped off his bike in heat five and Monarchs star Derek Sneddon, who was in close attendance, ran over him. Havelock was taken to hospital.

Sneddon didn’t escape unscathed either and was badly shaken by the crash which affected his later efforts. With Redcar already using rider replacement for the injured Matej Kus, they were reduced to just five fit riders but Monarchs were unable to cash in on their misfortune.

They were level after the first five races but lost a costly 5-1 in the eighth heat when ex-Monarchs duo Aaron Summers and Max Dilger stormed to a 5-1 victory over Sneddon and Wright, and this advantage put the Bears on the road to their win.

Summers piled up 17 points from his six rides but saw his maximum hopes dashed in heat 11 when Monarchs rider Andrew Tully defeated the young Aussie in the fastest time of the night. Summers was ably supported by Ulrich Ostergaard who rattled up 13 points.

Monarchs certainly didn’t throw in the towel but were perhaps a shade rusty. They extracted 5-1s in heats 12 and 14 but also surrendered 5-1s in heats 13 and 15 when they were up against Redcar’s big guns.

Craig Cook was Monarchs’ top scorer with nine points and his team-mates all weighed in with something, and the solidity of Monarchs’ down the line scoring should augur well for the season ahead providing they can take the chequered flag more often.

Redcar Bears: Summers 17, Ostergaard 13, Sedgman 8, Dilger 7, Havelock 2, Branford 2.

Monarchs: Cook 9, Wright 7, Pijper 6, Tully 6, Wethers 5, Dyer 5, Sneddon 3.

n TONIGHT’S Scottish Open championship at Armadale, which is sponsored by David Harrison Motors, starts at 7.15pm.