Home   Newmarket   Sport   Article

Subscribe Now

Mildenhall Fen Tigers joint boss reflects on tough night at Leicester Lion Cubs in first leg of National Development League Knock Out Cup final

Mildenhall Fen Tigers joint manager Jason Gardner has all but conceded this year’s National Development League (NDL) Knock Out Cup after the club crashed to a 55-29 defeat in the opening leg of the final on Saturday against the Leicester Lion Cubs.

Despite the odd glimmer of hope it proved to be a largely difficult night for the Fen Tigers, who were always playing catch up against a full strength Lion Cubs from the conclusion of heat one right up until the meeting ended prematurely in heat 14 due to the weather.

Two 5-1s fronted by Vinnie Foord and Joe Thompson respectively helped add to the opening heat 4-2 led home by Dan Thompson to put the hosts 10 points up after just four heats.

Mildenhall Fen Tigers joint boss Jason Gardner. Picture: Mark Westley
Mildenhall Fen Tigers joint boss Jason Gardner. Picture: Mark Westley

The small contingent of away fans were given something to celebrate just a race later as Jason Edwards secured one of just two wins posted by the Fen Tigers, who were operating rider replacement for Jack Kinsgton, when winning by the best part of half a lap.

However, that joy was short lived as Joe Thompson was at the head of another 4-2 in heat eight before Josh Warren gained the second Fen Tigers victory in heat eight to secure a share of the spoils.

The one way traffic continued with Connor Coles, who only after being pushed all the way by Fen Tigers guest Lee Complin, headed up a 4-2 in heat nine, which was swiftly followed by another 5-1 from Dan Thompson and his race partner Max Perry.

Although there was a momentary pause in the Lion Cubs' domination with Edwards and Luke Muff filling in the minor placings behind Joe Thompson in heat 11, which was stopped and awarded due to Foord falling, the hosts soon piled on the pressure once again.

A further two 4-2s either side of the Thompson twins running riot with a 5-1 in heat 13 completed the Fen Tigers bad day at the office leaving them with a mountain to climb in the second leg.

“I thought we would get a little bit closer than we did and I thought we would push them more and get towards 40 points,” said Gardner.

“There were a couple of races where we shut off and lost a point or two. Josh Warren was good and consistent.

"James Laker came in at the last moment and he stuck it out and I felt his effort deserved a bit more.

“Three of my riders got warnings from the first four races and they assured me they didn’t move and the tapes were being held for so long but the referee said they moved and in that situation there is not a lot you can do.

“Heat 11 was awarded but Jason was catching Joe Thompson and a guy with his experience could have caught him so I think that should have been re-run

“It is going to be hard to win the cup now. We have to take the lessons we have learned from that if we meet Leicester in the NDL play-off final.”

The Fen Tigers have no time to lick their wounds though because this afternoon they host Berwick Bullets in the semi-final second leg of the NDL play-offs (3pm).


Leicester Lion Cubs 55: D Thompson 12, M Perry 4+2, C Coles 10+1, T Spencer 4, J Thompson 11+1, V Foord 7, M Simpson 7+2.

Mildenhall Fen Tigers 29: J Edwards 8, J Kingston r/r, J Warren 7+1, A Spooner 4, L Complin 4, J Laker 1+1, L Muff 5+1.