Fen Tigers mount successful defence
Dreams of completing a treble moved a step closer to becoming reality for the Mildenhall Fen Tigers after they successfully defended their National Trophy title with an aggregate victory over the Cradley Heathens, writes Graham Clark.
It’s a case of one down and two to go for the West Row-based outfit after they inflicted a 49-41 second leg defeat upon their west Midlands rivals to take the final 100-80 and put their first piece of silverware in the cabinet.
“I’m really proud of them and they got what they deserved,” said Phil Kirk, team manager.
“We’ve been building towards this all year and we’ve still got the league and knock-out cup to go. The only shame is we have lost Josh Bailey for 28 days as that was the third time he has been stood down with concussion.
“The important thing was winning that trophy for Kevin (Jolly, promoter) as much as anything else. I don’t think the lads will be satisfied with winning less than everything this season as that is what we wanted to do at the start of the season.”
Entering the second leg with a 12-point lead following a 39-51 victory at Monmore Green, the Fen Tigers wasted no time in extending that advantage with guest Ben Morley replacing injured number one Danny Ayres, and Ryan Kinsley teaming up for an opening heat 5-1.
That score was replicated just a race later with Sam Bebee leading home fellow reserve Matt Marson to put the visitors firmly on the back foot.
The one way traffic continued with the Fen Tigers slamming home three 4-2s on the spin, the first of which featured what was to be the opening victory of three wins in a row for captain Jordan Jenkins, before Kinsley and Morley teamed up for another 5-1 in heat six.
Despite being 30 points behind on aggregate the Heathens refused to give up, and a 4-2 and 5-1 of their own, either side of a brace of shared heats, the second of which saw Bailey withdraw from the meeting, ensured the Fen Tigers were kept waiting from their moment of glory.
It wouldn’t be long though until the hosts crossed the line and the two points secured by Drew Kemp finishing behind visiting number one Alfie Bowtell did just that in heat 11.
With the visitors still hanging on in there the second leg was finally secured through a 4-2 from Morley and Kemp in heat 13.
There was still time for Marson to grab arguably the biggest roar of the day with a tapes-to-flag victory in the penultimate contest, before Bowtell and Nathan Stoneman gave the Heathens a 5-1 in the finale to ensure the scoreline had a respectable look.
“It’s good to get that first trophy on board,” said triumphant captain Jenkins.
“I started off with three good wins then things for me went a bit wrong. The lads done well and even though we lost Josh Bailey, which was not great,we all dug deep again and proved what a good side we are. They started to come good near the end but we got the job done.
“It was something we won last year but to do it with this year’s team is extra special and to have won it being team captain is great.”
Echoing the views of Jenkins was heat leader Kemp, who chipped in with a crucial nine points from the number five berth.
“The team have done well again and everyone did their best and it paid off,” he said.
“We knew it was going to be tough as Cradley are a good team. I thought if we could keep it close up there it would be good and I didn’t expect us to get as big a lead as that.
“We didn’t want to get too complacent but having that big lead from the first leg helped us relax and take the pressure off us a bit.
“Things hopefully can only get better now.”
Victory in the Trophy came 48 hours after the Fen Tigers booked their place in the final of the National League Knock Out Cup after defeating the Belle Vue Colts 43-47 in the second leg of their semi-final at the National Speedway Stadium to take the tie 111-68 on aggregate.
“I must admit I didn’t believe we would go there and beat them with the team we had but we gave one hundred and ten per cent again and that’s all we can give,” added Jenkins.
The Fen Tigers made it 16 straight wins in the National League on Monday with a 40-50 victory against the Coventry Bees.
They will be looking to maintain their unbeaten status when closing out their regular league season fixtures against the Eastbourne Eagles at Arlington on Saturday (7.30pm) before hosting the Birmingham Brummies on Sunday (3pm).
Mildenhall Fen Tigers 49: B Morley (g) 9+1, R Kinsley 7+1, J Bailey 2, J Jenkins 9, D Kemp 9, M Marson 7+1, S Bebee 6+2.
Cradley Heathens 41: A Bowtell 10+1, J Edwards 7, N Stoneman 14+2, E Perks r/r, T Brennan 6, R Andrews 3+1, J Chattin 1.
Belle Vue Colts 43: J Armstrong (g) 4+2, B Woodhull 7+2, T Perry r/r, J Lawlor 9+1, J Smith 14, P Bown 7+3, K Dicken 2+1.
Mildenhall Fen Tigers 47: D Ayres r/r, D Phillips (g) 9+1, T Woolley 1, J Jenkins 14+1, D Kemp 17, M Marson 5, S Bebee 1.
Coventry Bees 40: M Clegg (g) 12, J Halder 1+1, D Phillips 10, L Ruddick 4+1, J Armstrong 8, J Chattin 2+1, L Harris 3+1.
Mildenhall Fen Tigers 50: D Ayres r/r, R Kinsley 8+1, C Coles (g) 10+1, J Jenkins 9+3, D Kemp 14, M Marson 5+1, S Bebee 4