Devils find Diamonds tough going before bad week gets worse
Luckless Plymouth Devils' miserable time in the north was compounded by the Devon outfit slumping to their heaviest Premier League defeat of the season at Newcastle Diamonds on Monday night.
Devils went down 64-29 to their high-flying hosts, whom they still have to meet at St Boniface Arena before the end of what has been a tough season for Plymouth.
Newcastle had been due to ride against the Devils last Friday in a re-scheduled fixture, after the previous attempt had been rained off.
Then, to compound Plymouth's plight, on Sunday their other weekend away fixture at bottom-placed Glasgow Tigers was called off just over an hour before the meet had been set to get under way.
Plymouth's clash with the Diamonds on Monday night was always going to be an uphill battle for the visitors, who were without Rasmus Jensen because the young Dane had to return home for some examinations.
Jensen's absence did not qualify for an official replacement facility, so Plymouth had to settle for a National League guest and called up Stoke Potters' Lee Payne, who failed to score from three rides.
It was something of a one-man show for the Devils, with number one Mikkel Bech scoring 13 of their 29 points.
The Denmark international was their only race winner, with his two first places including a six-point tactical ride when he beat Andrew Tully and Ludvig Lindgren in heat five.
Former Plymouth rider Paul Starke, now with Berwick Bandits, was the guest replacement for reserve Hynek Stichauer, who is considered to be withholding his services after quitting British speedway.
The only Newcastle rider failing to reach double figures was former Plymouth reserve Chris Schramm, who was released by the Devils at the end of June.
Newcastle: Richie Worrall 13+2 (5 rides), rider replacement for Stuart Robson, Andrew Tully 11+3 (5), Ludvig Lindgren 11+1 (5), Anton Rosen 11+1 (5). Reserves: Chris Schramm 3+1 (4), Lewis Kerr 15+1 (6).
Plymouth: Mikkel Bech 13 (5 rides), Lee Payne 0 (3), Michael Palm Toft 4+1 (5), Todd Kurtz 4 (4), Mark Lemon 3 (4). Reserves: Jake Anderson 2 (5), Paul Starke 3 (4).
Following Monday night's 46-44 home win over Ipswich Witches, which confirmed their place at the top of the Premier League standings going into the play-offs, Somerset Rebels are getting ready for their Knock-Out Cup semi-final replay against Edinburgh Monarchs.
The first attempt to see which side will face Rye House Rockets in the final ended in a 90-90 stalemate. The first leg of the tie will be at Highbridge's Oaktree Arena tonight, with the two teams reconvening at Edinburgh's Scotwaste Arena two evenings later.