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Injured Danny Ayres backs Mildenhall Fen Tigers to end 'unbelievable season' on a high after Knockout Cup final defeat

Danny Ayres is confident that the Mildenhall Fen Tigers can still end the season on a high as long as they do not dwell on their defeat in the final of the National League Knockout Cup, writes Graham Clark.

The West Row-based outfit saw their hopes of claiming a treble dashed on Saturday after going down 96-84 on aggregate to the Eastbourne Eagles in the two-legged decider.

With the Fen Tigers having already secured the National Trophy, the injured rider has warned his team-mates that they must now regroup if they are to add the final of the National League against either the Eagles or the Coventry Bees to their silverware haul.

Danny Ayres
Danny Ayres

“It was devastating losing the cup final and what more can I say? The boys all tried their hearts out. It is just a bitter pill to swallow,” said Ayres.

“I’m as devastated as everyone that was riding. It was so hard watching on the sidelines knowing that I was in the form of my life until I broke my hand.

“We can still win the National League. We have just got to regroup and do everything that we were doing before.

“It has been an unbelievable season and we don’t want it to slip up now. It would be unjust if we didn’t win the play-off final.

“It’s a simple fact though that we can’t worry about this defeat. We just have to pick our heads up and come back firing.”

The Fen Tigers looked to have one hand on the Knockout Cup after inflicting a 52-38 defeat on the Eagles in the opening leg at Mildenhall Stadium on Friday.

After racing into a 10-point lead by the end of heat four there appeared to be no stopping the Fen Tigers who soon doubled that lead following the end of heat 10.

In what was a whirlwind start for the hosts, both Drew Kemp and Josh Bailey picked up three wins each while Ryan Kinsley produced one of the riders of the season when executing fine moves to pass both Ethan Spiller and Mark Baseby in heat seven.

As the track slickened off, the Eagles worked their way back into the meeting, picking up three 4-2s before rounding out the meeting with a brace of 3-3s.

Despite sharing the opening two contests at Arlington, it wasn’t long before the Fen Tigers were up against it after losing the services of reserve Sam Bebee in the first run of heat two.

Although Kemp and Jenkins combined for a 4-2 in the re-run of heat five, it came at a cost with the former withdrawing from the meeting with a season-ending broken foot sustained in a tangle with Mark Baseby in the initial race. With the teams level on aggregate by the end of heat 10, the Fen Tigers nudged back ahead in the following heat with Kemp and Bailey claiming a 4-2.

It proved a meaningless result in the end as the Eagles took charge once again, securing three 5-1s and a 4-2 in the remaining four heats to be crowned Knockout Cup kings for the fourth year in a row.

l Fen Tigers could be in action on Sunday against the Eagles in their final regular National League fixture, a meeting that could change to the first leg of the National League Play-Off final should the Eagles progress from their semi-final.