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Sunday
2 April, 4:00pm

NDL

Mildenhall
Fen Tigers
v
Kent
Royals

The 2022 season ended for Mildenhall Fen Tigers – proudly sponsored by Manchetts Rescue and Recovery – at King’s Lynn’s Norfolk Arena on Friday evening, with their terribly depleted ranks going down to a heavy 62 points to 28 against well-deserved National Development League winners, Leicester Lion Cubs.

Having lost the first leg the previous week to the well-drilled East Midlanders at West Row by 15, it would’ve taken a  recovery which the club’s main sponsors would’ve been rightly proud of to turn this around – Leicester losing home advantage and having to up sticks to neutral King’s Lynn to get this meeting done (four days after what should have been the official end of the season) might have given the Fen men a glimmer of hope were it not for losing FIVE members of their remaining squad – the absentee list finally joined on the day of the Grand Final by Luke Muff, out with a damaged hand.

The last man standing was skipper and number one Jason Edwards and what a man the 20-year-old from Billericay is. Jason racked up five superb race wins to complete a season of great personal satisfaction with 17 points. The highlight was a breath-taking pass on the final bend to pip his counterpart, Leicester’s captain Joe Thompson in heat 11. Edwards’s tally is notable also for perhaps a less good reason in that his 17 out of the team’s meagre total of 28 is almost certainly the biggest percentage score by any rider in the club’s history – a fact which tells not simply the story of Edwards’ brilliance but, sadly, the failure of his team mates to get the better of their opponents.

Indeed the only other Fen Tiger to get to the finish line before an opposition rider was 15-year-old Ashton Boughen, who did very well to win heat two but then suffered machine problems and trailed away to record just five points from his six outings. The other three unallocated three pointers Mildenhall were forced into tracking amassed just three points in total: James Laker scoring two, Bailey Fellows just the one and NDL debutant James Jessop considerably off the pace with zero.

There was disappointment too that the always plucky Tom Woolley, the only ‘Guest’ the rules would allow beleaguered team boss Jason Gardner to bring in, also failed to finish ahead of any Leicester riders ending with just three points.

It was indeed, as last week, evidence that for all the Fen Tigers’ excellent season up to this point, overcoming many injuries and much adversity to finish runners up in the final NDL table, with the division’s best away record, the final challenges of the two Cup Finals they reached were (with resources first stretched and then utterly spent) just steps too far.

On the eve of Bonfire Night, the stand in members of the scratch side tracked at King’s Lynn were sadly reminiscent of a defective firework which fizzled out without impressing; but there was nonetheless plenty to ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ about over the rocket like performance of Jason Edwards, a rider whose career is surely heading for the stratosphere.

Scorers:

Leicester Lion Cubs  62  [114]
1) Dan Thompson  2  3  3  3         11
2) Max Perry    1’  3  2’ 2  2’ 1       11+2
3) R/R for Connor Coles
4) Tom Spencer  2’   1’  3  2’  2      10+3
5) Joe Thompson  3  2  3  2  1       11
6) Vinnie Foord   1’  2’  1’  3            7+3
7) Mickie Simpson  2  2’  1’  2’         7+3
8) Max James     2’  3                     5+1 [PM]

Mildenhall Fen Tigers  28  [63]
1) Jason Edwards   3  3  3  3  2  3    17
2) R/R for James Shanes
3) Bailey Fellows  1  0  0  0  0            1
4) James Laker   0  1  1  0                 2
5) Tom Woolley [G]  1  1  1  0  0  0     3
6) Ashton Boughen  0  3  0  EF  1  1    5
7) James Jessop  R  0  R                    0