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Malcolm Vasey confident Mildenhall Fen Tigers will bounce back from big home loss to Leicester Lion Cubs at Plymouth Centurions



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Mildenhall Fen Tigers joint manager Malcolm Vasey admits their clash with the Plymouth Centurions has taken on a greater significance following their surprise home defeat in the National Development League (NDL) to the Leicester Lion Cubs last Sunday.

The Fen Tigers crashed to their biggest home defeat since losing 51-38 to the now defunct Cradley Heathens in speedway’s third tier on June 9, 2019 when going down 50-39 to the Lion Cubs at Mildenhall Stadium.

Despite the heavy loss Vasey retains faith that his side can show it was only a minor setback by claiming more valuable points on the road when taking on the Centurions at the Plymouth Coliseum on Tuesday (7pm).

Mildenhall Fen Tigers’ riders, led by Jack Kingston (3), find the going tough in heat 5 on Sunday Picture: Mark Westley
Mildenhall Fen Tigers’ riders, led by Jack Kingston (3), find the going tough in heat 5 on Sunday Picture: Mark Westley

“It was disappointing as nothing seemed to go right for us today but that is inevitable in speedway, however it doesn’t happen very often at Mildenhall but we will bounce back,” said Vasey.

“Plymouth was always a meeting we had targeted to get something away from home but it has assumed greater importance now.

“It is a gaters paradise but our boys are used to a small track and we have some good gaters in the team.

Rider James Shanes fist pumps Fen Tigers joint manager Jason Gardner Picture: Mark Westley
Rider James Shanes fist pumps Fen Tigers joint manager Jason Gardner Picture: Mark Westley

“We were pulverising Plymouth when the home meeting against them ground to a halt and that was without a number one and two.

“There is no reason we can’t go to the west country and make amends for today.

“They have a good guest at number one in Alfie Bowtell but we are more than capable of beating anyone around that track providing we have a full team. We will certainly be giving it a good go.”

Although the Fen Tigers, who were missing Alex Spooner through injury at the weekend, attempted to mount a mid-meeting comeback against the Lion Cubs, Vasey believes part of the damage was done even before a wheel was turned.

Mildenhall Fen Tigers' team manager Malcolm Vasey Picture: Mark Westley
Mildenhall Fen Tigers' team manager Malcolm Vasey Picture: Mark Westley

“We lost the coin toss so we didn’t get the gates we wanted. They got a 5-1 in the opening heat and they never looked back,” he said.

“The Thompson twins (Dan and Joe) are exceptional riders however we didn’t expect either Mickie Simpson or Vinnie Foord to ride like that. It was just a bad day at the office for us. “

He added: “Take nothing away from Leicester, they were good but I thought we might get there as we started looking better going into the second half of the meeting but it didn’t quite happen.”

Joe Thompson at the start of heat 9 Picture: Mark Westley
Joe Thompson at the start of heat 9 Picture: Mark Westley

An opening heat 5-1 from Mickie Simpson and Dan Thompson set the tone for the rest of the meeting, one in which the Fen Tigers were always on the backfoot.

Things got worse for the Fen Tigers in heat three when both Sam Bebee and Jack Kingston fell and were excluded after not being under power when the red light came on, giving the Lion Cubs a 5-0 before Thomspon and Simpson added 4-2 in heat five.

James Shanes in action in heat 7 Picture: Mark Westley
James Shanes in action in heat 7 Picture: Mark Westley

Three successive 4-2s, which included race wins from Jason Edwards, James Shanes on his home debut, and Bebee, reduced the deficit between the sides to five but that was as good as it was to get for the Fen Tigers.

Further victories from Joe Thompson in heats nine and 13 fronted further 4-2s for the visitors either side of his brother Dan spearheading another result by the same scoreline in heat 11.

Jack Kinsgton secured the second of two race victories in the penultimate heat, however the impressive Thompson twins, Joe ahead of Dan, ensured the meeting ended how it started for the visitors with a 5-1 in the finale.

Jason Edwards and Sam Bebee share a moment off the track Picture: Mark Westley
Jason Edwards and Sam Bebee share a moment off the track Picture: Mark Westley

Reflecting on the performance, Shanes, who top scored for the Fen Tigers with 11 points, is confident the defeat will be a one off on home territory.

“Personally it was an alright meeting for me scoring 11 points but you always want more” he said.

“The track was a little bit tricky to start with and it took a little bit of getting used to.

“A few of the boys were deflated but during the interval me and Jason gave them a pep talk and I thought we saw a bit of improvement in the second half.

“Hopefully that is our one duff meeting out of the way for the season and that the lads can now get back in the game for Plymouth on Tuesday.”

Scores:

Mildenhall Fen Tigers 39: Jason Edwards 7, Sam Bebee 5+1, Jack Kinsgton 8, Alex Spooner R/R, James Shanes 11, Josh Warren 4, Luke Muff 4+2.

Leicester Lion Cubs 50: Joe Thompson 14, Dan Thompson 11+2, Connor Coles 7+1, Mickie Simpson 7, Vinnie Foord 6, Tom Spencer 5, Max Perry 0.

Duo to take part in challenge match

A pair of Mildenhall Fen Tigers riders will get an extra opportunity for valuable track time tomorrow evening (July 4) when they make the relatively short journey to Peterborough Speedway to take part in a six heat Junior League-format challenge match against the Premiership club’s Pumas team.

Lining up for the Fen Tigers Select will be Sam Bebee and Luke Muff – both without much action since suffering injuries last month.

Joining the pair in the quartet will be Leicester-based Jacob Fellows who was named as no. 8 in the Mildenhall side which took on his home city side, Leicester Lion Cubs at West Row last Sunday and Arran Butcher, who rides in the NDL for new boys Oxford Chargers.

The home side managed by Jason Pipe feature two riders who were in that victorious Leicester Lion Cubs’ team on Sunday: Tom Spencer and one-time World Youth Long Track Champion, Max Perry. They are joined by Plymouth-based Ben Trigger and a familiar face for Mildenhall fans, Elliot Kelly – the rider from the north-east having made a fairly quick return to the sport after initially ruling himself out for this season when originally named again in the Fen Tigers’ squad by joining Armadale Devils.

Team boss Jason Gardner is happy for the opportunity this latest Junior Challenge gives at least of two his ring-rusty squad,

“We are very grateful to Jason Pipe and the Peterborough club for inviting us to take part in the Junior Match which will form the second half of the meeting following the Peterborough Panthers vs. King’s Lynn Stars match at the East of England Showground on Monday.

“This gives Sam and Luke invaluable track time on the day before the absolutely vital NDL away trip to Plymouth. The Premier Junior League is certainly helpful as our riders are featuring quite heavily:. The only reason Josh [Warren] isn’t in our side on Monday is that he’s already riding that same evening for Ipswich Juniors at Wolverhampton and we are seeing Sam [Bebee] and Alex [Spooner] regularly also turning out for the Witches at this level and Luke [Muff] for Sheffield.

“Alex is looking about 50/50 for the trip to Plymouth after suffering that dislocated shoulder in a track crash on the Isle of Wight last Thursday. And Jack [Kingston] is spending time working on his bikes in preparation for the match on Tuesday – a match when Jack is moving up into one of the heat leader berths.”