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Nathan Stoneman returns to Mildenhall Fen Tigers for National League play-off final second leg

Nathan Stoneman hopes he can finally get his hands on the trophy that injury prevented him from lifting in 2012, by helping Mildenhall Fen Tigers claim this year’s National League title.

WELCOME BACK: Nathan Stoneman in his first stint with the Tigers in April 2012
WELCOME BACK: Nathan Stoneman in his first stint with the Tigers in April 2012

The 22-year-old has been called up to guest for the Fen Tigers in place of injured rider Danny Ayres in the second leg of their play-off final against the Eastbourne Eagles at Mildenhall Stadium tonight (7.30pm).

Although the Eagles hold a healthy advantage following their 54-35 victory in the opening leg at Arlington on Sunday, the former West Row-based rider, who missed the Fen Tigers’ on track celebrations six years ago with a broken leg, is optimistic the tie is far from over.

“Mildenhall were my first club and if it wasn’t for injury I would have lifted the title on track with them in my first year, “ said Stoneman. “This is my chance to lift it now and say thanks for giving me my opportunity and complete that bit of unfinished business.

“Turning around 19 points is a big ask but Mildenhall have beaten Eastbourne at home heavily this year so it can be done.

“I think I perform better when it is more of a challenge as it gives you a greater sense of satisfaction. Injuries have taken their toll but Mildenhall have been the best team in the league and they deserve this.”

While the Fen Tigers, who will operate the rider replacement facility for injured captain Jordan Jenkins, need to pull out all the stops to claim the title, it is a challenge promoter Kevin Jolly believes is well within their capabilities.

“Some people have been writing us off but that is the easiest way to fire them up. They are not done yet and it is still achievable,” said Jolly.

“They are raring to go. I believe they can pull it back and they believe they can pull it back.”

Having watched Oxford-based Stoneman showcase his talents against the Fen Tigers this season both for his parent club Kent Kings, and as a guest, Jolly believes he is an ideal rider to bring in for the big occasion.

“This is where it all started for Nathan and he has turned into a hardman of the National League and he is exactly what we need,” said Jolly. “When the going gets tough he gets tougher and with his style of riding he should give us everything we need.”

l Mildenhall and the Eagles are scheduled to face each other at Arlington in their final regular season National League fixture tomorrow (8pm).