Tigers blown out

MILDENHALL SPEEDWAY byDavid Crane Mildenhall 49 Isle of Wight 44 Aggregate: Mildenhall 91 Isle of Wight 95 PREMIER LEAGUE - Sunday A DRAMATIC puncture blow out for Jason Lyons robbed Mildenhall of the aggregate bonus point in a tense and thrilling fi


byDavid Crane

Mildenhall 49 Isle of Wight 44

Aggregate: Mildenhall 91

Isle of Wight 95


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A DRAMATIC puncture blow out for Jason Lyons robbed Mildenhall of the aggregate bonus point in a tense and thrilling final heat finale in their Premier League clash against Isle of Wight on Sunday.

The ASL Freight Fen Tigers and the Islanders were locked 90-90 after 29 heats of racing following a 51-42 result on the Island on Thursday going into a gripping last heat decider.

Lyons and Daniel King got themselves into a 4-2 aggregate clinching position when, with the flag indicating the start of the third lap in sight, Lyons suffered the cruellest of punctures and could do little but retire to the centre green and watch as Jason Bunyan rounded King as the Islanders' literally stole the point from under Mildenhall's noses.

In heat 15 edge-of-the-seat excitement rounded off another barnstorming West Row contest with the Tigers responding in the face of adversity, following a week of unrest and uncertainty, with a truly spirited effort as the resolve amongst the riders had never been stronger and the supporters' backing never louder.

Double Australian Under 21 champion Chris Holder showed his liking for the circuit as he blasted under James Brundle a couple of laps in of the opening heat and kept Lyons on his toes to the finishing line.

Brundle, enjoying his switch to reserve, produced his own pass in heat two to beat former Fen Tiger Chris Johnson and the home side kept up the momentum to go 14-10 ahead after four heats.

Lyons wasn't the only home rider to suffer bike misfortune as Daniel King twice grinded to a halt when in scoring positions, the first when in third in heat five, that ultimately cost Mildenhall in the aggregate bonus stakes.

The first of four home maximums' came in heat six, as Brundle responded by being passed by Johnson to blast back under him to finish behind Lyons.

Holding a six point lead and with another 4-2 looking likely in heat eight, Daniel King suffered the second of his bike stoppages, this time as he led, and fortune appeared to be making Mildenhall's task that much harder.

But the fighting spirit proved even stronger after the interval as the Fen Tigers smashed in three 5-1's in four heats to take firm control of the match points and the advantage on aggregate.

More than a slice of luck helped them to grab the first of those in heat nine as Holder suffered a broken chain as he led the King brothers into the third lap, causing the pair to lay their bikes instantaneously down behind, and the race was awarded.

No such luck needed in the next, just sheer class as Lyons threw his bike around the boards to see off the challenging efforts of Krzysztof Stojanowski and grab a maximum with Jason King.

A third in heat 12 as Daniel King and Brundle relegated Jason Doyle, on a tactical ride, to last put Mildenhall 44-30 in front and out of reach for the match points, and leading 86-81 on aggregate.

Holder inflicted the first defeat on Lyons in heat 13 for a 2-4 and the Islanders' 2-5 advantage in the penultimate race, with Stojanowski beating Jason King and Bunyan producing a class ride to come from 15 metres behind to beat Brundle and double his points to two, pulled them level going into that theatrical final heat showdown.

Mildenhall promoter Mick Horton said: "I was very happy with the performance. The scoreline didn't reflect how the meeting went, we were so much on top and cruising at one stage but we were just so unlucky with Daniel King suffering two breakdowns and Jason Lyons having a puncture as he was cruising to victory in heat 15."

Mildenhall also produced a stunning 48-42 win at Somerset on Friday evening and Horton was naturally delighted with the hard-fought victory on their travels: "Winning at Somerset was an absolute fantastic result, not many teams will go to Somerset and get a win there. It proves to me we have a good team, the team spirit we have is first class, the boys are pulling for me and they love the fans and the club" he said.

Mildenhall's play-off chances were dealt a blow at the weekend with news that the club had been deducted the bonus point they achieved at Newcastle last month.

The Speedway Control Board deemed that guest Craig Branney, who replaced Jason King whilst he was riding the World Under 21 semi-finals, was ineligible to ride and therefore the 48-42 result has been amended to 48-32 after deducting Branney's ten points.

Horton explained: "I can't comment on this issue too much at the moment. Mildenhall Speedway have lodged an appeal against the decision and that will be heard in the next seven to 14 days.

"We feel that we've done no wrong and are taking our stance on this as there are a couple of are as that are very grey within the rulebook. We've got a few problems that we're ironing out now and I'm sure we'll go on from here. The problems around the track will be resolved. We've got a couple of ideas, perhaps put the start-time during school holidays back an hour or two to give us more time to prepare the track.

"The problem we have is that when the stock cars are here we don't have enough time to work on the track so every hour willhelp and we're working on it and I'm sure it will get better."

WITH assurances on the club's future and the 'feel good-factor' very much back at Mildenhall, the focus turns to another four hour West Row bumper double-header on Sunday, starting at 3.30pm.

The ASL Freight Fen Tigers will be aiming for more Premier League points when they face second from bottom Edinburgh in the first part, and then the Jolly-Chef Academy will be looking to build on recent confidence-boosting performances and grab their first league win of the season against Plymouth in the Conference League.

Mildenhall currently sit in 11th place in the Premier League table on nine points with Edinburgh two places below on seven points, though both have meetings in hand on most teams above them.

Both sides will operate rider replacement, as the Tigers are likely to remain without inspirational skipper Jon Armstrong for a few further weeks as he recovers from cracked ribs. The Monarchs controversially sacked popular Australian Rusty Harrison on Friday for refusing to take his remaining rides against Rye House as he expressed concerns over track conditions.

The former Workington rider was second in their averages and now extra emphasis is placed on his ex-team mates, who are led by Danish 20 year-old Henrik Moller.

The Monarchs also boast 26-year-old former Holland international and European grass track champion Theo Pijper in their top three plus, as you'd expect, a strong contingent of Scottish riders in William Lawson, Matthew Wethers, Derek Sneddon and Sean Stoddart.

Mildenhall promoter Mick Horton is certainly confident that his team can send the Scots back north of the border point-less. He said: "I think we'll beat Edinburgh, they are not a bad side but if we ride like we did last Sunday I think we'll win convincingly, though we do need to focus for all 15 heats."

Horton had made moves to temporarily fill the void of Armstrong's spell on the sidelines with enquiries about former favourite Paul Lee and ex-Poole and Peterborough rider Daniel Davidsson. He explained: "Daniel was my first choice who I had agreed to bring in and Paul was another I looked at but, again it is a grey area, and it states we can only replace Jon with an A grade rider even though the BSPA have decided to put him into the team on his average of 6.91. On a guest appearance we can bring in a rider on a 6.91 average but to replace him in the team we can only use an A grade rider which is very frustrating."

The second part of the double header sees the revitalised Academy aiming to end their losing streak and surprise the league by inflicting a defeat on high-flying Plymouth.

Team boss Blayne Scroggins is in buoyant mood after seeing his young side lose 42-54 away to the Devils last Friday, one of the best results any team in the division has managed at the new purpose-built circuit. Scroggins said: "I don't think there will be too many teams that get that close to Plymouth on their own track this year and I'm really proud of the boys. Plymouth are a very good team and have riders with a lot of Premier League experience, but we are getting better and better with the results not showing the effort the boys are putting in.

"We're back at full strength and if they ride to their ability and we've got a good track, it's a bold statement but there's no reason at all why we can't get the bonus point against Plymouth."

Ben Hopwood continued his excellent form by winning the second round of the British Under 15 Championship at Scunthorpe last Sunday.

The Manchester-based 15-year-old won three of his four qualifying races and then won the final to follow up his second place in the first round at Buxton last month.

The Devils, who set the pace earlier in the season with 11 straight wins in their first year, include 39 year-old ex-Elite League rider Seemond Stephens former Fen Tigers title winners Lee Smart and Chris Johnson, ex-Weymouth star Tom Brown and Jessica Lamb, the only women rider competing competitively in the sport in the UK.

Somerset 42 Mildenhall 48,

Premier League - Friday

MILDENHALL bounced back in fine style after recent worries and five meetings without a win by producing a stunning 48-42 victory at league contenders Somerset on Friday evening.

The ASL Freight Fen Tigers gave their promoter Mick Horton a major confidence boost, as well as putting their play-off hopes back on track, by overcoming a six-point deficit after heat four to take the lead with four heats left and record their first away win of the season.

Somerset team manager Mick Bell had warned his riders beforehand against complacency after knocking Mildenhall out of the KO Cup with ease last month, stating "We just can't expect to turn up and win, and will treat Mildenhall with respect."

Three 4-2 advantages for the Rebels put them into a 15-9 lead but the Fen Tigers stopped the home side pulling away any further in the next couple of races and then started to gradually pull back the margin on their opponents.

Daniel King, who has been hitting some top form of late, was again on the top of his game as he won three races over the next four heats, leaving Oak Tree specialists Glenn Cunningham and Magnus Zetterstrom trailing in his wake in heats seven and ten, and teaming up with James Brundle for a crucial 5-1 in heat eight.

With the scores squared at 30-30, Jason Lyons also maintained his excellent current form by producing another 5-1 for Mildenhall with Jason King in heat 11, and his 4-2 success with Brent Werner over Zetterstrom in heat 13 ultimately clinched the league points for the Fen Tigers.

And just to round matters off, Lyons, who top scored with 14 points, showboated his way to his fourth race win of the night in the final heat and relegated Somerset's super Swedes Emil Kramer and Zetterstrom to the minor places.

Former Rebels promoter Laurence Rogers was successful in defeating his old club as he team managed the Fen Tigers in the absence of Horton who had attended his father's funeral during the day.

Plymouth 54 Academy 42,

Conference League. Friday

MILDENHALL Academy, missing three of their top four riders, produced a moral victory by coming away with a defeat under 15 points against a formidable Plymouth side at St Boniface Arena.

Only two teams can claim that fact this season, and considering this was the Academy's ninth straight defeat and were without heat leaders Matthew Wright and Mark Thompson, as well as second-string Mark Baseby, this result will be a boost for the youngsters as most pundits had predicted a margin twice the size of the final outcome.

A big contributor in that must go to the inclusion of Plymouth squad member Jordan Frampton, who took the place of Baseby, and having not been given a chance by the Devils, he certainly made them take notice as he top scored with paid 14 points, including two stunning and rare victories against the vastly experienced number one Seemond Stephens, one of which was as a tactical ride.

James Purchase produced his best display of the season. After grabbing second place in heat six, he won his tactical ride in heat eight in which he teamed up with Ben Hopwood for a stunning 8-1 advantage that drastically reduced the deficit.

Hopwood is now making excellent strides after his early season form was interspersed with falls as he got to grips with his first competitive season. He went on to beat Tom Brown, a rider with Premier League experience, in heat 14 in one of his best rides of his career to-date.

Hopwood's reserve partner Trevor Heath was consistent too, packing in the crucial minor places to total paid eight points, Andrew Bargh grabbed two second places and a fall amongst his five rides and Shane Henry grabbed a point on his first ever competitive meeting.