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2 April, 4:00pm


Fen Tigers

A major blow to the play off hopes of reigning National Development League [NDL] champions, Mildenhall Fen Tigers – proudly sponsored by Manchetts Rescue and Recovery – with a second home defeat of the season, on Sunday (24/7) by Belle Vue Colts.

Again the Fen Tigers had lots of luck, absolutely all of it bad: already down to bare bones and having to utilise Rider Replacement for stricken second string Matt Marson, injuries forced out both Sam Bebee and Luke Muff before the first half of the meeting was done – forcing the remaining quartet to soldier on gamely and to no avail, losing 41-47.

The late withdrawal of the proposed no. 8 Jacob Fellows did little to help the cause, meaning that reserve Josh Warren had no respite in helping to cover for his injured comrades and with his seven rides accounted for, it mean an unprecedented block of five successive heats in the second stanza, (heats 8 through to 12) where the hosts could only field one rider per race. Trailing by one going into this spell, heat wins from Jack Kingston, maximum man (again) Jason Edwards and a battling second place from Guest, Lee Complin did what they could to minimise the damage but a 4-2 and then a 5-1 in heats 11 and 12 meant the writing was really on the wall for the home side.

The problems really began in heat two. The two reserves Warren and Muff had been the match winners the previous Sunday and set off from the tapes looking like they were to reprise that good form: away in a dominant 5-1 position. But firstly Warren fell when leading (quickly remounting) and then Muff fell also as race leader. The resulting foot injury for the Yorkshireman forced him out of the meeting.

Worse was to follow in the very next race. Kingston and Bebee, both fallers in this one. A 5-0 to the opponents and a lead the Mancunians were never destined to relinquish. Bebee suffered a knock in this one; suspected concussion  after gamely battling on for another race, out of the match too.

There was more than a trace of irony in this victory which clinched a league double over Mildenhall by the Colts, as before proceedings began there was a view expressed from within the Belle Vue camp that they didn’t want to ride: stating unhappiness with the dry state of the circuit. It’s a classic case of be careful what you wish for, as the result was surely way beyond their expectations (coming into this vital NDL match with depleted ranks themselves) and gives them a crucial advantage now in the race for the top four – the successful outcome for the visitors really made those wanting nothing to do with the meeting at the outset look rather foolish.

One rider clearly not ready and willing to race was Archie Freeman – excluded twice for failing to get on track within the allotted two minutes in heat two. In heat nine (one of those with three riders only) the Geordie teen was clearly making no effort to race at the back – and was extremely lucky to escape any censure (disqualification could and arguably should’ve resulted for this breach of the rules) from the meeting referee.

Lee Complin was again an outstanding performer – carrying on from where he left off when with his club Armadale last week, now ‘Guesting’ in Fen Tigers’ colours. His race wins in heats four and seven were poetry in motion in a leg-trailing style rarely witnessed these days; and when all hope was nearly lost, the veteran combined with Edwards to secure a 5-1 in heat 13 to suddenly give a glimmer of hope to the hosts.

Now the gap was six points with two heats to go. Could victory (or at least a draw) be snatched from the jaws of defeat? Sadly not; with Kingston bravely getting up off the deck twice from first bend falls in two unsatisfactory attempts to get heat 14 on – only to finish at the back, with the overworked Warren getting just a solitary point and victory was Belle Vue’s.

But not the bonus point (and that could yet prove crucial) – with Edwards and Complin combining again for a maximum in heat 15. The way Complin stuck out a leg to shut the door on young pretender Jake Mulford was classic – the recent GB U19 championship runner-up could do well to learn the tricks of the Speedway trade from this absolute master.

There was some optimism though for the beleaguered Fen Tigers [who face another of their Play Off rivals, Kent Royals at West Row next Sunday (31/7)] – with the appearance on track burning up some after meeting laps of club captain Ryan Kinsley. The shoulder looked like it was holding up fine and really Kinsley’s return, when that comes, couldn’t be more warmly welcomed.

“I’m having a first skid since my recuperation from the operation today”, he went on the mic to tell the expectant crowd. “I need to get some practice in so that I can see how it feels and get close to when I can make a decision on my return”.

Mildenhall Fen Tigers 41
Jason Edwards    3, 3, 3, 2’, 3                  = 14+1 [PM]
Rider Replacement – Matt Marson
Sam Bebee          F, 1 withdrawn             = 1                      
Jack Kingston      F, 0, 3, 0                       = 3        
Lee Complin [G]  3, 3, 2, 3, 2’                   = 13+1
Josh Warren       T/X, 2, 1, 2’, 2, 1, 1        = 9+1
Luke Muff           1, F withdrawn –injured  = 1

 Belle Vue Colts 47
Jack Smith          2, 3, 3, 1, FX                   = 9
Sam McGurk       0, 2’, 2’, 1, 1                   = 6+2
Rider Replacement - Nathan Ablitt
Jake Mulford        3, 1’, 2, 3, 3, 1               = 13+1
Tom Woolley [G]  2, 1, 2, 2, 0                    = 7
Archie Freeman   M 0, 1’                           = 1+1
Freddy Hodder    3, 0, 3, 1’, 2’, 2’              = 11+3>

Heat details
1 (rerun) Edwards, Smith, Muff, McGurk, Warren (exc. tapes) 52.5  [4-2]
2 (rerun twice; stpd, awarded) Hodder, Warren (fell rem.), Muff (fell exc.), Freeman (exc. 2 mins x 2) no time [6-5]
3 (stpd, awarded) Mulford, McGurk, Bebee (fell), Kingston (fell) no time [6-10]
4 Complin, Woolley, Warren, Hodder 53.6 [10-12]
5 Smith, McGurk, Bebee, Kingston 54.5 [11-17]
6 Edwards, Warren, Woolley, Freeman 54.3 [16-18]
7 Complin, Woolley, Mulford (three riders only)  54.6 [19-21]
8 Hodder, Warren, McGurk (three riders only) 55.5 [21-25]
9 Kingston, Woolley, Freeman (three riders only)  55.1 [24-28]
10 Edwards, Mulford, Hodder (three riders only)  56.1 [27-31]
11 Smith, Complin, McGurk (three riders only)  54.8 [29-35]
12 Mulford, Hodder, Warren 54.8 [30-40]
13 Complin, Edwards, Smith, Woolley 55.8  [35-41]
14 (rerun twice) Mulford, Hodder, Warren, Kingston 56.4  [36-46]
15 (rerun) Edwards, Complin, Mulford, Smith (fell exc.) 56.6 [41-47]