Mildenhall Fen Tigers' number one Jason Edwards targets first National Development League victory against Eastbourne Seagulls this weekend
Jason Edwards is confident the Mildenhall Fen Tigers can build on their battling draw with reigning National Development League (NDL) champions Leicester Lion Cubs by securing a first victory of the season against the Eastbourne Seagulls on Sunday (3pm).
Fen Tigers’ number one Edwards expects his team-mates to take inspiration from their 45-45 draw, which was their first in 70 meetings since being held by the now defunct Stoke Potters in September 2017, by proving too strong for a Seagulls side which is yet to win on the road.
Although the Seagulls have the services of experienced number one Jake Knight and in-form reserve Nathan Ablitt to call upon, Edwards expects the Fen Tigers’ superior all round strength in depth to prove decisive in what will be their first home meeting since 2019.
“Eastbourne are very reliant on Jake Knight, who has made a return to the sport, at number one and Nathan Ablitt at reserve,” said Edwards. “Although we have a strong top three we have strength in depth all the way through and we should capitalise on that.
“Everybody should be really looking forward to it after Wednesday’s meeting against Leicester where we showed just what we can do.
“I’ve had a couple of practices around Mildenhall this year but it is not the same as racing. It will be nice to get that first meeting back at Mildenhall under the belt.”
With Edwards doubling up his Fen Tigers duties with the Eastbourne Eagles in the Championship, this weekend’s clash against the Seagulls will give him an added interest, but he insists there will be no sentiment when he takes to the tapes.
“I think I’ve always been in the Eastbourne side when they have ridden against Mildenhall before but that doesn’t make a difference,” said Edwards. “I might be a bit more chattier to them in the pits than other teams but Mildenhall is my National League track which is absolutely brilliant as I love it there.”
Defeat looked to be on the cards for the Fen Tigers in their opening fixture against the Lion Cubs at the Paul Chapman & Sons Arena after they found themselves trailing by six points following the conclusion of heat seven.
Back-to-back 5-1s from Sam Hagon and Sam Bebee in heat eight, and from Jordan Jenkins and Hagon a race later, edged the Fen Tigers two points in front.
That was followed by spills from both Bebee and Elliot Kelly, while in point scoring positions in heats 11 and 12 respectively, which handed the hosts successive 4-2s to move back in front.
What came next was the race of the night with Edwards and Jenkins lowering the colours of the previously unbeaten Joe Thompson to pack out the placings behind Dan Thompson and share a pulsating 3-3.
Exemplary team riding by Luke Ruddick saw him team up with Hagon to secure a 5-1 in the penultimate heat leaving the Fen Tigers requiring just a 3-3 in the finale, however it was not to be with the hosts, courtesy of a fifth Dan Thompson victory, securing a 4-2 to snatch a draw.
“On a personal note I was a little bit disappointed, especially being number one as if you get wins in heat 13 and 15 you can win it for the team,” said Edwards.
“Heat 13 we very nearly did it but you have to give the Thompson twins credit as they are really flying. We gave it our best shot and that is all you can do as a rider.
“In general everyone did absolutely brilliant. Big credit goes to Sam Hagon at reserve who was absolutely brilliant in his first meeting for us and Luke Ruddick got better as it went on.
“I don’t think you could have asked for much more and we will now go again on Sunday.”
Edwards will bid to join Fen Tigers team mates Jenkins and Bebee in the final of this year’s British Under-21 championship when contesting the second semi-final at Redcar tonight (7.30pm).
“There are a few good riders in it including the Thompson twins. I just need to make sure I make some good starts but Redcar is a track that is always brilliantly prepared and is always a treat to ride,” added Edwards.
“I’m looking forward to it but anything can happen in speedway and if you are not qualifying there is a reason for it.”
Leicester Lion Cubs 45: Dan Thompson 15, Mickie Simpson 2, Joe Lawlor 6, Tom Spencer 6+1, Joe Thompson 10, Kai Ward 2+1, Ben Trigger 4.
Mildenhall Fen Tigers 45: Jason Edwards 9, Sam Bebee 4+2, Elliot Kelly 2+2, Luke Ruddick 8, Jordan Jenkins 10+1, Sam Hagon 12+2, Luke Muff 0.