Thompson triple can’t halt defeat

Scunthorpe 59 Mildenhall Academy 34 Monday, Conference League MILDENHALL Academy, missing two of their regular team members, suffered their seventh straight Conference League defeat at Scunthorpe on Monday evening. Without the unavailable Trevor Heath

Scunthorpe 59

Mildenhall Academy 34

Monday, Conference League

MILDENHALL Academy, missing two of their regular team members, suffered their seventh straight Conference League defeat at Scunthorpe on Monday evening.

Without the unavailable Trevor Heath and Mark Baseby, who was sitting a college exam, the Academy were always destined to struggle at the home of the team Blayne Scroggins tipped to be league champions.

Luke Goody, signed this season as a squad member, got his first taste of competitive action and earned his first point of his career whilst Grant Hayes was drafted in as a guest but failed to score.

Most Read

The positives to take was again the form of captain Mark Thompson, who was the only race winner for the visitors, and he grabbed three race wins, including one successfully as a tactical ride in heat nine where he ruined Richie Dennis's hopes of a maximum.

Scroggins will also take great satisfaction in the form of popular teenage reserve Ben Hopwood, who produced his best ever performance and score with 8, paid 9 points, and enjoyed the novelty of being nominated for the top scorers final race.

Mildenhall 40 Somerset 53, Premier Knockout Cup, Quarter-Finals, 2nd Leg, Sunday - Somerset win 105-83 on aggregate

Mildenhall crashed out of the Premier League Knockout Cup as they struggled to find an answer to Somerset's fast-gating style in the second leg of their quarter-final clash at West Row on Sunday.

The ASL Freight Fen Tigers had earned a credible 52-43 defeat in the first leg on Friday and felt the nine-point deficit was within their grasp to turn around, having claimed the aggregate bonus point over the Rebels in the Premier Trophy earlier in the season.

But things looked bleak for Mildenhall as Somerset caught them cold with two opening 5-1 maximums and a third in heat four to cancel out the Tigers' 5-1 response in heat three.

Swedish duo Magnus Zetterstrom and Emil Kramer, making his Somerset debut, shut out Jason Lyons in heat one and another West Row specialist, Jon Armstrong, couldn't find a way past the excellent Ben Barker and guest, former Fen Tiger, Lee Smart, in heat two.

The response from brothers Daniel and Jason King in heat three was just as impressive on the perfect racing strip but then Brent Werner was unable to catch Glenn Cunningham and Barker in the next.

Trailing by 17 points on aggregate after just four heats, the home crowd knew a performance of the season was needed to turn around the margin but it steadily got worse as three 2-4's and two shared races ultimately put the tie beyond the Fen Tigers.

Jason King's blast around Kramer in heat five was top drawer stuff to inflict his only defeat of the day, and then the Swede produced his only classy pass on James Brundle to win heat eight. Sandwiched in between was Werner's tactical ride in heat seven, where he was left trailing at the back and the tie was all but over.

A tactical ride win by Jason Lyons in heat 10 with Brundle in third brought a 7-2 advantage that left Mildenhall needing a miracle - maximum 5-1's in all of the remaining five races to win by two points on aggregate.

But instead it was the stunning duo of Zetterstrom and Kramer who ended all possibilities with a 5-1 of their own in heat 11 ahead of Werner.

The highlights of an otherwise forgettable meeting for Mildenhall were heats 12 and 13. Barry Burchatt switched lines perfectly and then held off Stephan Katt to earn a 5-1 with Daniel King in heat 12 and then Lyons ended both Zetterstrom and Cunningham's aspirations for a maximum with a fine pass on their star Swede to win.

Somerset finished with 5-1 and 4-2 advantages to compound Mildenhall's misery and earn a very comfortable 22-point aggregate victory to progress into the semi-finals.

And assistant team manager Blayne Scroggins, who has stood in for both KO Cup ties in the absence of Mick Horton, admitted his side just couldn't match the Rebels' quick-gating.

"They hit us early on with two 5-1s and were very quick out of the gate and we just never recovered. We hit back with a 5-1 but then they carried on with a 5-1 and a 4-2 and once we got that far behind we just couldn't turn it around" he said.

"We take nothing away from Somerset, they were the better team on the night and so much faster than us out of the gate. We did all the hard work in the first leg on Friday, we kept it to 9 points, which was a score we were capable of turning around but we just weren't at the races and had too many riders not scoring points.

"They all had one or maybe two decent rides but we just couldn't compete with Somerset and it's disappointing and I think they've let themselves and the fans down a bit."

Mildenhall Academy 41 Scunthorpe 52,

Conference League, Sunday

Mildenhall Academy kept things tight early on but in the end suffered their sixth straight league defeat against one of the title favourites in Scunthorpe.

The Scorpions started impressively, winning the first five heats as they went eight points ahead. Teenage reserve Tai Woffinden lived up to his fast growing reputation by winning heat two in a time of 51.5 seconds, bettered only twice in the following Premier League meeting.

But he looped his bike in his second ride and landed awkwardly and was ruled out of the rest of the meeting on medical advice. His remaining rides were taken by fellow teenage sensation Josh Auty, twice winner of the British Under 15 Championship at Mildenhall, who showed all of that class as he dropped just a point to the home side as he scored paid 20 points from seven rides from reserve.

Academy number one Andrew Bargh produced his best performance of the season by some distance and captain Mark Thompson was as rock solid as ever by winning four of his five rides, including a tactical ride in heat 11.

Thompson and Bargh paired up for two Academy 5-1 maximums in heats 13 and 15 and were the only race winners in the home camp.

Matthew Wright struggled to find his usual consistent form and was out-muscled in the first couple of turns as he failed to double his points in heat nine. Academy team manager Blayne Scroggins made a final throw of the dice in the penultimate heat but Bargh couldn't make up the 15 metre handicap on the Scorpions pair.

Mark Baseby twice comfortably led Wayne Carter in his first two rides but both times misjudged the pits turn and surrendered the advantage.

Andrew Tully, after an unlucky fall in his first, produced an excellent final bend swoop on Wright in heat five to delight the travelling Scorpions fans.

"It was an encouraging display in parts, but barring injuries, I think we got beat by the league champions," said Scroggins afterwards.

"I was pleased that Andrew (Bargh) is now scoring some points and Mark (Thompson) was excellent again but we didn't get a lot else from the rest."

Conference Fours

(Saturday at Stoke)

Mildenhall Academy were the surprise package at the Conference Fours at Stoke on Saturday by finishing third in the final, proving many critics wrong after they were unfancied to qualify from their group.

The Academy made a barnstorming start to their semi-final, finishing in either first or second in the opening four heats as they incredibly led the rest of the pack that included Scunthorpe, Rye House and Buxton.

But as they tailed off in the latter stages and took only two points from the last four races, Scunthorpe went on to win the group and Mark Thompson beat Buxton's Jonathan Bethell into third in the final race to secure a run-off for the last spot in the final.

Andrew Bargh had already beaten the Hitmen's Ben Taylor in heat three and the pair matched up again. Little separated them for the first couple of laps until the Academy's number one pulled away and clinched a place in the final against the most unlikely odds.

"I was absolutely over the moon at Stoke and extremely proud of the boys. We had league favourites Rye House in our group and knocked them out, Boston are another strong team and will be up there challenging and they didn't even qualify for the final.

"Andrew (Bargh), Mark (Thompson), Matt (Wright) and James (Purchase) went about their business in the semi-final and, in the final itself, they were thereabouts up until the final few heats."

Matthew Wright and Mark Thompson scored all but one of the Academy's points in the final and held on to comfortably take third overall ahead of Scunthorpe.

Fours result:

Semi-Final 1: Stoke 18, Plymouth 16, Boston 10, Newport 4.

Semi-Final 2: Scunthorpe 19, Mildenhall 12 (Bargh 4, Thompson 3, Wright 3, Purchase 2), Buxton 12, Rye House 5. * Mildenhall qualified for final after run-off.

Final: Stoke 16, Plymouth 16, Mildenhall 10 (Wright 5, Thompson 4, Bargh 1, Purchase 0), Scunthorpe 6. * Stoke win Fours after run-off.