When the riders stopped for a water break in the scorching heat, two-thirds of the way through this National Development League [NDL] meeting on Sunday at Mildenhall Speedway - proudly sponsored by Manchetts Rescue and Recovery – it could hardly have been anticipated that the most local and decidedly Biblical deluge of the wet stuff from the sky would bring matters to an early halt. 

That the DJS Fen Tigers had just established a one-point lead in the match was good fortune indeed. The win and the bonus point awarded as the result stood, means that, though unlikely, there remains still a slim change (albeit really only mathematical) of qualifying for the end of season Play Offs.

The opponents for Jason Gardner’s charges at a sultry but disappointingly sparsely attended Mildenhall Stadium, Workington Comets have been beleaguered of late – including in a late-finishing two match drubbing the evening before at Leicester. But far from having had the stuffing knocked out of them by what was then a ninth successive defeat in all competitions, the Cumbrian side were the epitome of plucky and must be cursing their misfortune at the turn of natural events which saw then going away from a match in which they’d led for five of the 10 completed heats, with nothing again to show for those efforts.

Two 5-1s for the visitors had set the Fen Tigers back on their heels, both inspired by race wins by teenager Luke Harrison enjoying his return to the track where he’d first made a name for himself almost exactly a year ago. And if Harrison was pleased with his return to West Row, the Comets’ reserve Elliott Kelly (a member of the Fen Tigers’ title-winning side of 2021) was euphoric – top-scoring for the visitors with 11 points from his five rides (having those extra outings, as skipper Luke Crang withdrew early from proceedings with a flare up of an old knee injury).

The all-important race winners for the homesters were stand-in skipper Alfie Bowtell with two race victories; Ben Trigger who did likewise including what was to turn out to be the decisive win in heat nine; and George Congreve – the Kiwi’s lowering of the colours of the visitors’ ‘Guest’ number one, Ryan Kinsley in heat five being the definite highlight of the afternoon.

Trigger’s sweeping win in heat nine followed by Bowtell keeping Kelly and Harrison at bay in the next race meant the score was 30-29 in favour of the hosts and when the heavens decided to open during a water break which the weather gods took far too literally, it was all over for the afternoon.

Team boss Jason Gardner was soaked from a track walk to survey the damage but happy with the points and the display of his men,

“I’m very pleased to see us get over the line and get a win.To their credit, after a very difficult time for them yesterday evening, Workington put up a great performance and really pushed us.

“A few of the team had bike issues today which doesn't help. It was good to see Ben [Trigger] carrying on his home form with some great gates and a shame for him that he missed out on a possible heat 15 ride. Credit too goes to George [Congreve] for that great ride to beat Kinsley, who as a very experienced ex-Mildenhall man doesn't drop many points round West Row.

“It was certainly unfortunate that the massive rain storm (which came from nowhere) spoilt what was looking like a good finish to the meeting; but having walked the waterlogged track l was really struggling to stay upright, so there was no chance of riders turning a bike.”

Results over the weekend have effectively sealed Leicester Lion Cubs’ place in the Play Offs and finally they have set a date for the long anticipated visit of the DJS Fen Tigers to the East Midlands city – it’s on Friday September 29th., the pity being that by then (unless there is a highly unlikely stumble by the team currently in second, Oxford Chargers) the match is likely to have come too late to have a bearing on the Play Off race.

Leicester do though also await the DJS Fen Tigers in the division’s Knock-Out Cup Final and all attention will shortly shift to that, with dates of the two legs expected to be available in a day or so. After a very worrying dip in crowds with numbers at a season’s low on Sunday, the club’s management and very active Supporters Group will want to see a big crowd turn out for what will be the final home meeting of the season.

Mildenhall DJS Fen Tigers     30 {79}

Alfie Bowtell           2, 3, 3          8
Arran Butcher         1’, 1, 3, R      5+1
Ben Trigger            3, 1, 3          7
George Congreve    1, 3, 1          5
Danny Phillips [G]   1, 1              2
William Richardson  2, 0             2
Sam Woolley FX, 0, 1                 1

Workington Comets                29 {70}

Ryan Kinsley [G]      3, 2                 5
Jacob Clouting [G]    0, 0, EF           0
Luke Harrison          2, 3, 3, 1’         9+1
Luke Crang              R withdrawn – inj.   0
Sam McGurk - R/R
Elliot Kelly               3, 2, 2, 2, 2      11
Kai Ward                 FX, 2’, 2’, 0, 0  4+2

 Heat details

1 Kinsley, Bowtell, Butcher, Clouting 52.6  [3-3]
2 (rerun twice) Kelly, Richardson, Ward (fell exc.), Woolley (fell exc.) 54.3  [5-6]
3 (rerun) Trigger, Harrison, Congreve, Crang (Exc. tapes, 15 metres, ret,) 52.5  [9-8]
4 Harrison, Ward, Phillips, Woolley 52.6  [10-13]
5 Congreve, Kinsley, Trigger, Clouting 52.4  [14-15,]
6 Bowtell, Kelly, Butcher, Clouting (EF) 54.0  [18-17]
7 Harrison, Ward, Phillips, Richardson  53.5  [19-22]
8 Butcher, Kelly, Woolley, Ward (fell rem.) 54.3  [23-24]
9 Trigger, Kelly, Congreve, Ward 52.6  [27-26]
10 Bowtell, Kelly, Harrison, Butcher (ret.) 52.7  [30-29]
Meeting abandoned due to waterlogged track – RESULT STANDS...

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