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Sunday
2 April, 4:00pm

NDL

Mildenhall
Fen Tigers
v
Kent
Royals

Thursday night’s double header of two Cup Finals at Mildenhall Speedway – proudly sponsored by Manchetts Rescue and Recovery – turned into a night of Double Jeopardy for the Fen Tigers, going down to decisive aggregate defeat in the Knock Out Cup Final and suffering a heavy first leg reverse in the NDL Grand Final – in both cases to league toppers Leicester Lion Cubs.

Considering that the KOC Final was always going to be a near-Herculean effort to recover from the a first leg deficit of 26 points, it was clear from the outset, under the atmospheric West Row floodlights, that the priority was to build a first leg lead in the opening match, the all-important Play Off Grand Final to take to the East Midlands on Saturday,

However on an unseasonably mild night on the Fens, it was the Lion Cubs who proved far too hot to handle.

As with the two matches with Leicester in the regular NDL season, everything that could go wrong for the Fenmen most certainly did go wrong on the long night; and, the magnificent efforts of inspirational skipper Jason Edwards and a typically resilient effort from the man who defines Yorkshire grit, Luke Muff apart, none of the side showed really any of the form which had taken them to second in the final divisional standings and had seen them qualify with plenty to spare for both of these end of season finals.

The 37-52 defeat by Leicester in the Grand Final first leg realty is a hammer blow to the Fen Tigers’ chances of retaining their league title – and ‘Hammer’ is an appropriate word on an night of ‘House of Horrors’ proportions, sadly fitting being on the cusp of Halloween itself of course.

It didn’t start badly though, with Edwards a winner in heat one and then the Fen Tigers’ latest 15-year-old starlet Ashton Boughen combining with Luke Muff for a 5-1 in heat two to give the hosts an early lead,  But even on a night of 30 heats this was absolutely as good as it got – save for Edwards, no Fen Tiger was again to reach the chequered flag before an opposition rider, as firstly the Play Off match and then, with resources getting more and more stretched, two heavy match defeats (by far the worst of this campaign or of any in recent memory) were suffered.  

The debutant Boughen withdrawing injured after a nasty coming together with Leicester’s Connor Coles – a crash which left the former Mildenhall man Coles with a suspected broken collar bone  - was followed by Jack Kingston not taking his place at all in the KOC match after a nightmarish return from his concussive-related absence from the semi-final of the Play off.  

And by the end of proceedings, nudging towards midnight, the fast approaching ‘Witching Hour’ saw co-team bosses Jason Gardner and Malcolm Vasey wondering which of their riders were indeed able to go on track.

A special mention is due to youngster James Laker who came into the second match and put up a plucky showing, but overall this was a night absolutely to forget for a Mildenhall side who really looked as if the season, in its closing moments, had well and truly caught up with them.

Results:

Play Off Final First Leg 

Mildenhall 37 Leicester 52

Scorers:

Mildenhall:
Jason Edwards 16; R/R for James Shanes; Josh Warren 2; Alex Spooner 4; Jack Kingston 1+1; Ashton Boughen 5; Luke Muff 9+3

Leicester:
Dan Thompson 14; Max Perry 7+3; Connor Coles 8; Tom Spencer 2+1; Joe Thompson 10; Vinnie Foord 9+2; Mickie Simpson 2

KOC Final Second Leg

Mildenhall 27 [56] Leicester 61 [116]

Scorers:

Mildenhall:
Jason Edwards 13; R/R for James Shanes; Josh Warren 0; Alex Spooner 2; Jack Kingston DNR; James Laker 4; Luke Muff 8

Leicester:
Dan Thompson 10+1; Max Perry 13; R/R for Connor Coles; Tom Spencer 12+2; Joe Thompson 9; Vinnie Foord 7+1; Mickie Simpson 5+2; Max James (no. 8) 5+1