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2 April, 4:00pm


Fen Tigers

The 2022 National Development League [NDL] season reaches its climax for Mildenhall Fen Tigers - proudly sponsored by Manchetts Rescue and Recovery - this month, with the title-deciding Play Offs and Knock-out Cup Final. And with the Suffolk side's efforts this campaign bordering on more trophy-winning success, it's appropriately up to the Borders first - this Saturday (8th.) taking on Berwick Bullets in the Play Off semi-final first leg.

Being a new month, the revised match averages apply and that's had a significant effect on the side that joint team bosses Malcolm Vasey and Jason Gardner can select. With the in-form Alex Spooner moving back up into the main body of the side after some excellent performances since returning from injury, this would have meant Sam Bebee doing down to a reserve berth. Sadly Bebee is confirmed as out for the rest of the season still suffering from the after-effects of concussion and so a new reserve needs to slot in. This will be 2021 GB Youth Champion in the 250cc class, Luke Harrison - making his Mildenhall debut in the away leg at Shiefield Park on Saturday.

Originally announced for that role was complete rookie, Ashton Boughen who now won't be representing the Fen Tigers in the semi-final tie.

With just the one rider in Mildenhall's one to five on the injury list (James Shanes) it means there's no facility for a 'Guest' and instead to cover for the World Long Track rider will be Rider Replacement. The Fen Tigers are otherwise unchanged from the side which beat the Bullets in their last home meeting to clinch second place in the final NDL table and go into the Play Offs as the team in form as they aim to defend their NDL title - that means Jason Edwards who got injured in heat one of thar match at West Row last month is back. Edwards showed he is suffering no ill effects of the nasty knock he received then in a clash with Berwick's Ace Pijper by taking an excellent third place in the NDL Riders' Championship a fortnight ago.

Berwick have Pijper back too and also the experienced Luke Crang absent when the two teams last met. Their heat leader trio is completed by two other vastly experienced campaigners in former World Youth title winner Kyle Bickley and Scotsman Greg Blair.

The Tweedsiders have gone this season unbeaten at home (as indeed they did last year, when they ended as runners up to Mildenhall in the table) but the Fen Tigers will take heart from the fact that they were the visiting side who performed the best there this term (as indeed was the case in 2021): going down to a narrow 48-42 defeat, the only side to come away from Shiefield Park with a bonus point. With the semi-final being a two legged affair, a performance to match or better that would put the Fenmen in fine fettle for the second leg which is at West Row on Sunday 16th. October.

To clear up the issue regarding Boughen who is riding instead for Oxford Chargers in the other Play Off semi-final on Saturday which sees Mildenhall's Cup Final opponents and the league table toppers. Leicester Lion Cubs aim to overcome a slim two point defeat from the first leg at Cowley earlier in the week, Mildenhall promoter Greg Palmer said, "I totally understand the position Ashton has taken, opting to ride instead for Oxford at Leicester on Saturday. As a club we support a British youngster beginning to make his way in the sport."

Teams for Saturday (with new averages)

Berwick Bullets
1 Kyle Bickley 9.48 (Captain)
2 Ace Pijper 7.04
3 Ben Rathbone 4.36
4 Luke Crang 7.23
5 Greg Blair 8.07
6 Kieran Douglas 3.66
7 Mason Watson 4.30

Mildenhall Fen Tigers
1. Jason Edwards 10.00 (Captain)
2. Rider Replacement for James Shanes 8.66
3 Josh Warren 5.79
4 Alex Spooner 6.93
5 Jack Kingston 6.45
6 Luke Harrison 3.00
7 Luke Muff 4.78