Fen Tigers through to Grand Final
Isle of Wight Islanders 45, Mildenhall Fen Tigers 44 (Play-Off semi-final 2nd leg Mildenhall win 102-81 on aggregate)
MILDENHALL Fen Tigers are through to the National League Grand Final, but not before a determined and gutsy display from the Isle of Wight Islanders gave them an almighty fright.
“Full credit to the Islanders, they made us work hard, but we made it,” said Mildenhall co-promoter Michael Lee. “We had a bit of a wobble, but we geed the team up again and got the job done. Now we are looking forward to some cracking meetings with Dudley. It’s going to be hectic, but the boys know what’s required.”
When they opened with a 4-2 from guest Jason Garrity and Joe Jacobs, everything looked set for a comfortable night for the men from Suffolk. But then speedway’s latest sensation, Adam Ellis, and Danny Stoneman hit back with a 5-1. When the Islanders followed that with another, but unexpected, 5-1 as Stefan Nielsen and Danny Halsey came to grief when set for a maximum themselves, a distant alarm bell started to ring.
It seemed to be silenced next time out when Garrity and Jacobs roared to the visitors’ first 5-1 of the night. But then the alarm bell suddenly got louder again as wonderkid Ellis and home skipper Danny Warwick pinched a 5-0 as a strangely out of sorts Bates and Ryan Terry-Daley both fell and were excluded in a Heat 6 that was finally completed at the third attempt.
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With their lead cut to 13 points on aggregate, Nielsen and Halsey steadied Mildenhall’s rocking boat following the Islanders Paul Starke home, but crucially keeping Stoneman back in last place.
Once again in Heat 8 there was no stopping Ellis powering to his fourth win of the night, but with Jacobs and a much more comfortable looking Bates heading Starke home, the Fen Tigers claimed another three-three and could breathe a little easier again.
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The steady Ben Hopwood then claimed his first heat win of the meeting with Mildenhall again filling the minor places, this time through Halsey and Bates. And then suddenly, better late than never, came the famous Mildenhall mid meeting charge. The usually potent pairing of Nielsen and Halsey clicked into gear to claim a vital maximum from Warwick and Steve Jones.
The race of the night was to follow, with Starke finally beating off the challenge of Jacobs and Garrity, to keep the Isle of Wight’s hopes of a place in the Grand Final hanging by a thread.
BuT then finally the Islanders thread was finally snapped, as Nielsen took the honours in Heat 12 to get the three points needed to send Mildenhall into next week’s Grand Final against Dudley.
With pressure now off ,Garrity clinched his third win in Heat 13 and the now dialled-in Bates and Halsey followed that with a 5-1 to Mildenhall to pull them to within a point of the Islanders on the night.
In the end, though the Isle of Wight hung on to win 45-44 as schoolboy Ellis took his fifth win to complete another remarkable haul of paid 17.
Isle of Wight = 45 (81)
1. Danny Warwick 2, 2’, 1, 1’ = 6+2
2. Mark Baseby R/R
3. Steven Jones 3, 0, 0, 0, 2 = 5
4. Ben Hopwood 2’, 1, 3, 1 = 7+1
5. Paul Starke 1, 3, 0, 3, 2, 0 = 9
6. Danny Stoneman 2’, 0, R, 0 = 2+1
7. Adam Ellis 0, 3, 3, 3, 3, 1’, 3 = 16+1
Mildenhall = 44 (102)
1. Jason Garrity (G) 3, 3, 1’, 3, 2 = 12+1
2. Joe Jacobs 1, 2, 2’, 2, 2 = 9+1
3. Stefan Nielsen 0, 1’, 3, 3, 1’ = 8+2
4. Daniel Halsey 1, 2, 2, 2’, 2’ = 9+2
5. Lewis Blackbird R/R
6. Ryan Terry-Daley 1, Fx, 0 = 1
7. Josh Bates 0, 0, Fx, 1’, 1’, F, 3 = 5+2
MILDENHALL’S hopes of an historic Grand Slam will now be decided in a hectic five days of action. It starts with back-to-back National Trophy matches against Stoke at West Row on Friday (19th October) and Loomer Road on Saturday.
They then travel to Dudley next Tuesday for the first leg of the Grand Final and the second leg of the Knock Out Cup Final, before another remarkable season concludes with the second leg of the Grand Final against the Heathens now confirmed for West Row next Wednesday (24th October).