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Mildenhall Speedway Press Release 86/22 Meeting preview: Mildenhall Fen Tigers vs. Berwick Bullets [NDL Play Offs Semi-Final Second Leg] Sunday 16th. October 3pm.

It’s all to ‘Play Off’ for on Sunday (16th. October) at Mildenhall Speedway – proudly sponsored by Manchetts Rescue and Recovery – as the enultimate home meeting of the 2022 season sees the hosts look to overhaul a three points disadvantage and prevail in the semi-final versus Berwick Bullets.  The winner will face Leicester Lion Cubs in a two-legged Play Off Final with the destiny of this year’s National Development League [NDL] title up for grabs.

The reigning NDL champions, Mildenhall Fen Tigers trail by the relatively slender margin of 43 points to 46 following the first leg up in the Scottish Borders last weekend but will be talking nothing for granted in such a vital fixture.

The Fen Tigers have been bedevilled all season with various injury woes and that jinx has hit again, after the in-form Jack Kingston took a blow to his head in his final ride in the first leg on Saturday – and despite heroically pushing his bike home for what could end up being an absolutely vital two points, was then diagnosed as suffering from concussion. Under the health & safety protocols now in place for head injuries Jack has to sit out eight days recovery time and so will be absent from the Mildenhall line up on Sunday.

Coming in as the ‘Guest’ replacement is Danny Phillips – the north-easterner actually guested also in Mildenhall’s last home match, the win over Plymouth which sealed their runners up position in the final NDL table. That was when Phillips answered a call from the resourceful Mildenhall management to come to West Row on his way back from a match with his club side Armadale earlier that same afternoon at Kent and deputise at the last minute for then injured Jason Edwards. It was a remarkable piece of professionalism from the experienced rider and much appreciated by all at West Row and this time Danny will have considerably longer to prepare himself for his latest ‘Guest’ appearance!

With Kingston’s team berth covered by the provision of a ‘Guest’ it means that the longer term injury absence of James Shanes can revert to the Rider Replacement [R/R] facility – which has the extra advantage due to Shanes being second in the Fen Tigers’ averages of allowing all of the remaining sextet of riders one extra ride to cover for the missing World Long Track man. That includes, of course, skipper and number one, Edwards – back and showing no ill effects from that nasty prang he suffered, ironically against Berwick in the last double header meeting at West Row early last month.

Making his home debut after an excellent first ever NDL outing in the away leg is Luke Harrison – the 2021 GB Youth champion at 250cc really making a late season impression at senior level after recently turning 15.

Talking of that crash which involved Edwards when Berwick visited last month, the other rider involved in that heavy coming together was Ace Pijper – and the Scottish-born rider (son of a former Fen Tiger and runner up in the World Long Track championship in 2010, the Flying Dutchman, Theo Pijper) is back from his injury lay off also. The young Brit represented the country of his birth (along indeed with Fen Tiger new boy Harrison) in the recent, newly constituted World Youth Championship known as the SGP3. Ace managed to crash on the very first bend, of the very first lap, of his very first race at  the Mildenhall circuit last month and will be fired up to put that behind him and show what he can do on Sunday.

That misadventure by Pijper really summed up a miserable afternoon for the Bullets in that visit in the league and of course they simply can’t afford such a mis-firing performance (which they lost 57-33), so one can be sure that the experienced team management duo of Gary Flint & Kevin Little will be looking from improved performances across their charges.

The side are captained by one of Team GB’s top young starlets in Kyle Bickley – twice a World Youth Champion before he was even in his teens, Bickley has tasted NDL title success before, four seasons ago with Belle Vue Colts and was the top scorer when the Tweedsiders visited in September.  Missing that afternoon was their heat leader Luke Crang – who will be hoping it’s third time lucky after crashing out in what was effectively a title decider scrap between the two teams at West Row this time last season and then being forced out by injury again in September. 

Missing this time though will be Berwick’s own concussion injury victim from the first leg, the Scotsman Greg Blair. Blair – like Shanes – is second in his team’s averages meaning the full advantage can be obtained from the R/R facility in place for him.

Completing the Bullets’ line up will be Ben Rathbone, who scored a useful enough six points to their cause last month; and their two locally-produced youngsters from the Scottish Borders  Mason Watson and top scorer when they visited last season, so a rider who can make an impression for the visitors, Kieran Douglas.

Mildenhall Co-Team Manager Jason Gardner, looking to lead the Fen Tigers into another Play Off Final (their fourth) in what is his first season in the TM role gave a rallying call,

“We did brilliantly up at Berwick – statistically THE hardest place to get a result in the NDL these past two seasons - by keeping the deficit down to three points.  But there’s not a trace of complacency as we all remain fully focussed on the job in hand as we go again on Sunday. The home support we’ve received all season and especially in our brilliant run-in which saw us get into the Play Offs has been a vital factor and we look forward to having a big crowd of Sunday, roaring the Tigers on!”

The meeting is on Sunday 16th. October at Mildenhall Stadium with a return to the normal 3pm start time (gates open at 1.30pm).