Mildenhall Fen Tigers beat leaders Eastbourne Eagles in a thriller
- Credit: Archant
Mildenhall Fen Tigers 46 Eastbourne Eagles 44 A stunning last heat decider saw the Mildenhall Fen Tigers maintain their unbeaten home record whilst inflicting the first defeat of the league season on table topping Eastbourne.
A depleted Fen Tigers had the perfect start when guest Connor Coles and Jordan Jenkins raced to a 5-1 advantage in heat one.
It could have been another in heat two had Lewis Whitmore not slid off when in front on the last bend but he managed to remount and claim third place behind William O’Keefe and Eastbourne’s Alex Spooner.
Luck favoured the Fen Tigers in heat three when the unlucky Mark Baseby paced up whilst leading leaving Jon Armstrong and Danno Verge to claim another 5-1 to put the home side ten ahead after only three races.
The lead was quickly reduced when firstly Dan Halsey fell when in second place in heat four before Georgie Wood beat Armstrong and the lead was down to four points.
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Two shared heats followed including a fine win by Halsey over Baseby before the Fen Tigers took control again with a 5-1 from Jenkins and the impressive O’Keefe.
Two more shared heats saw the lead remain at eight with just five heats remaining and although Wood beat Halsey in heat 11 another shared heat in heat 12 left the Fen Tigers six ahead with just three heats to play.
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However the meeting was about to take the first of two twists, first Coles slid off when Halsey lead heat 13 and with Coles unable to clear the track in time the red lights bought a halt to proceedings and a re-run was required.
This time Wood got the better of Halsey in the opening lap before the unbeaten Jake Knight chasing hard managed to catch Halsey right on the line for a 5-1 that reduced the lead to two.
Minutes later and the ‘Eagles’ were suddenly ahead as Tom Brennan and Mattie Bates pulled away from Verge to claim another 5-1 to leave the visitors 43-41 ahead going into heat 15.
The Eagles went for the obvious choice of Wood and Knight whilst the Fen Tigers went for the combination of youth and experience with Jenkins and Armstrong.
The crowd were silent as the tapes rose but this quickly changed to a crescendo of noise as Jenkins fired out of gate one to hit the first bend in front and as the dust settled Armstrong drove through a gap into second and join his young partner. With the crowd going wild the Eastbourne pair quickly tailed off and it was left to Jenkins to lead home Armstrong for a fine victory for the Fen Tigers.
Afterwards Kevin Jolly was pleased to secure an important three points.
He said: “With Connor Mountain with Ipswich and both reserves missing this was always going to be very difficult for us, but the lads kept battling to the end and I felt we deserved it although we threw too many points away that on another day may have cost us.
“I must praise young William O’Keefe who did a fine job for us at reserve and what can you say about that last heat? Jordan rode it like an old hand and Armo was just superb keeping their pair at bay.
“This is an important three league points for us and sets us up nicely for next Sunday’s important cup tie with Stoke. The entertainment in the last couple of meetings has been real edge of the seat stuff and hopefully we can progress into the last four of the cup to keep a positive season heading in the right direction.”
Scorers: Fen Tigers: Jon Armstrong 11+1 (5 rides), Jordan Jenkins 10+1 (5), William O’Keefe 7+2 (5), Connor Coles 7+1 (4), Danny Halsey 6 (4), Danno Verge 4+2 (4) and Lewis Whitmore 1 (3).
Eastbourne: Jake Knight 12+1 (5 rides), Georgie Wood 10 (5), Mark Baseby 7 (4), Tom Brennan 5+3 (4), Matt Bates 5+1 (5), Charley Powell 3 (4) and Alex Spooner 2 (3)