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David Wallinger refusing to rule out National League Knock Out Cup comeback from Mildenhall Fen Tigers

David Wallinger insists the Mildenhall Fen Tigers will fight until the bitter end as they bid to overturn a 21-point deficit in the National League Knock Out Cup quarter-final against the Leicester Lion Cubs on Sunday (3pm), writes Graham Clark.

The West Row-based outfit will go into the concluding leg of the fixture with what, on paper, looks a tall order after going down 55-34 to the Lion Cubs at the Paul Chapman and Sons Arena earlier this month; but it’s a mission that Wallinger believes is far from impossible.

“I don’t think this one is over yet and I think every one of their riders are beatable around here and it could come down to which reserves turn up,” said Wallinger.

Mildenhall Fen Tigers Press and Practice Day David Wallinger Picture by Mark Westley. (10872881)
Mildenhall Fen Tigers Press and Practice Day David Wallinger Picture by Mark Westley. (10872881)

“The Thompson twins (Joe and Dan) are good riders but our reserves can beat them round here as it will be an eye opener for their two boys when they get here and our reserves have to work on that.

“If they can hit double figures and I can hit double figures and Danny Ayres can start it off by winning heat one then anything can happen.

“We will come here and try and score as many points as we can and if we do end up losing we will take them as close as we can.”

Having missed the Fen Tigers’ 49-41 win away to the Plymouth Gladiators through injury, the 35-year-old returned to score 11 points – which included three wins – during their 43-41 defeat to the Kings in the same competition at Mildenhall Stadium on Sunday.

Mildenhall Fen Tigers Press and Practice Day David Wallinger Picture by Mark Westley. (10906561)
Mildenhall Fen Tigers Press and Practice Day David Wallinger Picture by Mark Westley. (10906561)

Danny Ayres set the ball rolling for the hosts when scoring the first of his five-race wins on his way to a 15-point maximum with an opening heat 4-2 alongside Matt Marson.

After suffering the first of two 3-0s against them in heat two the Fen Tigers hit back with 4-2s fronted by Wallinger in heat three and Ayres in six respectively to put them 18-15 up.

With the Kings securing a 4-2 of their own – fronted by former Fen Tigers captain Jordan Jenkins – in heat seven and another 3-0 in heat eight it swung the meeting back in favour of the visitors.

A second 4-2 spearheaded by Wallinger and backed up by Charlie Brooks restored parity between the two sides which would remain until Jenkins instigated another 4-2 for the Kings in the penultimate heat.

David Wallinger (red). Picture: Derek Leader (10906564)
David Wallinger (red). Picture: Derek Leader (10906564)

Although Ayres raced to win number five in the finale, visiting number one Ben Morley and Jenkins filled the placings to give the Kings victory and put an end to both the Fen Tigers’ 31-match unbeaten home record and their hopes of a third successive Trophy title.

“Personally I’ve got to take the positives away as I got heat 15 but it didn’t work out as gate one was really a bit of graveyard but I was happy to score 11 points,” added Wallinger.

“As a team we didn’t have the best of times as we threw silly points away. Against some teams in the league you can get away with but not against the likes of Kent.”

While getting dialled into the track at Mildenhall Stadium, Wallinger is well aware he needs to up his game on the road – something which he hopes to do against the Kings in the Trophy at Central Park Stadium on Monday (4pm).

“I just need to get a decent away meeting under my belt. The club have shown me nothing but support and have not been on my case,” said Wallinger.

“From what I remember about Kent’s track I quite like it and if I can get double figures there hopefully it can kick start my away form.”