Mildenhall Fen Tigers looking to clinch first National Development League title in nine years during Kent Royals trip
Mildenhall Fen Tigers team manager Malcolm Vasey is confident they can secure their first National Development League title since 2012 by exacting revenge over the Kent Royals on Tuesday (6.30pm).
Having watched the Fen Tigers suffer defeat at the hands of the Royals in their first home meeting of the season, Vasey believes his side can repay the favour at Central Park Stadium and secure the three points needed to move above current league leaders Berwick Bullets.
Although the Fen Tigers enter the meeting on the back of a five-match winning run, Vasey expects a tough challenge from a Royals side featuring the likes of Ryan Kinsley and Dan Gilkes. However, he expects his side’s superior strength in depth to prove decisive.
“I think the team is in a different place to the one that lost to Kent earlier in the season, plus we have added Nathan Ablitt who is an ex-Kent rider and he will help bolster us there,”said Vasey.
“We were very unlucky when we raced Kent at home as we had an early exclusion for guest Connor Coles go against us while we didn’t have Jason Edwards either that day.
“I’ve got great respect for their team and it won’t be easy for us but they have got a bit of a tail and that is where we have got to bite them.
“Their three heat leaders: Ryan Kinsley, Dan Gilkes and Jake Mulford will take some shifting but Jordan Jenkins is in fine form, as is Jason Edwards who has done well guesting for Edinburgh in the Championship, so we are equally as strong at the top end.”
At one point last week, Tuesday’s meeting had looked like being switched to take place at Mildenhall Stadium on October 24, with the Royals running out of potential slots.
But the meeting was reverted back to its original fixture after directors of the BSPL refused permission for the swap
“It was an effort made by Kent not us. They thought they would be helpful to us to try and get the fixture in plus they have already won once up here this year,” said Vasey.
“We would have been able to potentially get four points as we would have been the away team but it was not to be.
“Nothing has changed in my mind and I’m reasonably confident we can pick up the points that we need to win the league.”
Despite the significance of the meeting, Vasey expects the Fen Tigers, who will welcome back Sam Hagon from injury, to cope with the occasion.
“They all know how important it is and they are as keen as I am to win the league and if we can do it there so much the better,” said Vasey.
“Jason, Jordan and Nathan, with it being his old track, are all capable of scoring double figures and if they do that we are half way there.
“Sam Bebee should be very strong at reserve but we have got riders that will all give it 110 per cent.
“I’ve never had such a reasonable team to work with as none of them are hard to deal with.
“You sometimes get a rider who is awkward or doesn’t want to take an extra ride but there is none of that with these boys. They are all thirsty to ride all the time.”
Victory for the Fen Tigers would see Vasey finally get his hands on speedway’s third division title, having been short during spells in charge of the Boston Barracudas, Stoke Potters and Scunthorpe Saints.
Although Vasey admits he is ‘desperate’ to win the title, he claims he would get greater enjoyment in securing the coveted piece of silverware for the fans over his own personal satisfaction.
“I’ve won a few things but never the league and I’m desperate to win it,” said Vasey.
“I’ve had a team finish top then get beaten in the play-offs when I was at Stoke in 2011 and ironically that was by Mildenhall, who then lost the final to Scunthorpe by one point.
“I wanted Scunthorpe to win that as I had been there for two years.
“I think Mildenhall supporters are better than anywhere else and I really have a lot of time for them. I think they are terrific and I would like to do something for them.
“All I can say is please as many of you get down to Kent and give it as much vocal support as you can and we will do our level best to bring back the title.”