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Jason Edwards wants Mildenhall Fen Tigers to restore some pride following crushing NDL Grand Final first leg defeat to Leicester Lion Cubs





Mildenhall Fen Tigers captain Jason Edwards has urged his team-mates to restore some pride after their hopes of maintaining the National Development League (NDL) were left hanging by a thread following a crushing defeat in the opening leg of the Grand Final.

The Fen Tigers will need to pull off one of their greatest ever comebacks at the Paul Chapman & Sons Arena tomorrow night (8pm) after they were left facing a mountain to climb following a 52-37 defeat at the hands of the Leicester Lion Cubs in the opening leg last night.

Even the eternal optimist would be hard pressed to be confident about the Fen Tigers finding the 16 points required to claw back the deficit needed to register back-to-back NDL titles, however Edwards believes that they are still capable of putting on a show.

Jason Edwards and his team had a night to forget at Mildenhall Stadium Picture: Mecha Morton
Jason Edwards and his team had a night to forget at Mildenhall Stadium Picture: Mecha Morton

“I think at the end of the day Leicester are just a better team than us which is a hard thing to say riding for an opposing team,” said Edwards.

“I think everyone was on edge tonight. We won’t be under any pressure at Leicester now on Saturday as that has all gone. We just need to try and restore a bit of pride.

“They should go on and win the title so all the pressure is on them. We just want to try to put on a good meeting against them.

The Mildenhall Fen Tigers' riders, saluting the crowd following their victory in the second leg of their NDL Play-Off semi-final against Berwick Bullets, end their campaign in Leicester tomorrow night Picture: Mecha Morton
The Mildenhall Fen Tigers' riders, saluting the crowd following their victory in the second leg of their NDL Play-Off semi-final against Berwick Bullets, end their campaign in Leicester tomorrow night Picture: Mecha Morton

“It was brilliant riding under the lights. There were a few spills and some good races so the meeting had a bit of everything except for a Fen Tigers win.”

The meeting started in positive fashion for the hosts, who moved into an early four point lead after Ashton Boughen and Luke Muff teamed up for a 5-1 in heat two after the two teams shared the spoils in the first heat, which went the way of Edwards.

That was as good as it was to get for the Fen Tigers as everything that could go wrong pretty much did, starting with the Lion Cubs being gifted a 5-0 in the very next heat following the exclusions of the Fen Tigers duo Josh Warren and Alex Spooner.

Having been in the driving seat early doors the Fen Tigers found themselves seven points down by the end of heat five, which the visiting pair of Dan Thompson and Max Perry secured with a 5-1 at the third attempt of asking.

Although the pairing of Edwards and Boughen teamed up to claim 4-2s either side of a 5-1 from the Lion Cubs duo of Joe Thompson and Vinnie Foord in heat nine it was to little avail.

Then much to the astonishment of the Fen Tigers camp, Jack Kingston retired from the meeting following his second spill of the night in heat 11 reducing the hosts numbers down to five with the rider replacement facility already in use for James Shanes.

That figure soon became four as Boughen was withdrawn alongside Lion Cubs star Connor Coles following a first bend coming together in the very next race, which left the latter with a suspected broken collarbone.

With their numbers depleted the Fen Tigers limped through the rest of the meeting, however further 4-2s fronted by Dan Thompson in heats 13 and 15 ensured the Lion Cubs ended the meeting with one hand on the NDL trophy.

Further misery was inflicted upon the Fen Tigers after the Lion Cubs ran out 27-61 winners in the second leg of the NDL Knock Out Cup to lift the competition 116-56 on aggregate.

Scores:

NDL Grand Final, First Leg

Mildenhall Fen Tigers 37: J Edwards 16, J Shanes r/r, J Warren 2, A Spooner 4, J Kingston 1+1, A Boughen 5, L Muff 9+3.

Leicester Lion Cubs 52: D Thompson 14, M Perry 7+3, C Coles 8, T Spencer 2+1, J Thompson 10, V Foord 9+2, M Simpson 5.

NDL Knock Out Cup, 2nd Leg

Mildenhall Fen Tigers 27: J Edwards 13, J Shanes r/r, J Warren 0, A Spooner 2, J Kingston (non-starter), J Laker 4, L Muff 8.

Leicester Lion Cubs 61: D Thompson 11, M Perry 12+1, C Coles r/r, T Spencer 12+2, J Thompson 9, V Foord 7+1, M Simpson 5+2, M James (no8) 5+1.