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Sunday 26 June
3:00pm

NDL

Mildenhall
Fen Tigers

v

Leicester
Lion Cubs

A frustrating night for Alex Spooner but with valuable track time for Sam Bebee and Josh Warren was the story of the Fen Tigers Select away match vs. Ipswich Reserves Junior Challenge fixture at Foxhall Heath on Thursday night (28th.April)..

Warren was of course appearing on this occasion for the Ipswich side and scored paid three; whilst there was a return for one evening for a member of Mildenhall’s (proudly sponsored by Manchetts Rescue and Recovery) 2021 NDL-winning side, Sam Hagon who top-scored with ten points – getting one extra ride due to Spooner’s misfortune.

The teams saw two changes from the programmed line ups.  Danyon Hume was replaced at number one for the Witches by a face very familiar to all at West Row, twice European Grasstrack champion, James Shanes.  Meanwhile for Sam Woolley  in the Fen Tigers Select read, actually, Sam Woods – the one time Kent Kings’ man joining a recent trend of riders from the 2012-’15 period attempting a comeback this term.

Poor Woods had lots of luck this evening – the trouble was for the 28-year-old from Boston, Lincs it was all bad…

Gating well in his first ride Woods was tucked in behind team mate and namesake Hagon in heat two, finally being overhauled by the chasing Jacob Clouting but the 4-2 for the Fen Tigers Select levelled up the scores.  The same pairing were out in the next race but at the first time of asking it ended in a untidy heap with the two Fen Tigers making contact with each other on the exit of bend two on lap one.  It was difficult for the referee to adjudicate on this one and Woods was certainly aggrieved that (with an all four back outside of the match official’s remit due to where the coming together occurred), it was Woods’ helmet colour illuminated by the exclusion light.

Woods then had a fall in his next ride and engine problems in his fourth outing when he was looking good for a point before the gremlins struck.

But if Woods was bemoaning some bad luck there was huge frustration for the Jason Gardner-managed select’s number one, Alex Spooner.  Alex’s evening lasted but a second and moved no further than a handful of centimetres as he suffered a clutch failure as the tapes rose on heat one.

Spooner explained afterwards what had happened,

“I experimented this evening with a new clutch system – changing from the hydraulic type I generally use to a rocker arm type,  However with a new frame too, I misjudged the size of rod needed and it was by millimetres too short.  So as the tapes went up the rod wouldn’t engage and I went nowhere!”

Hasty repairs were started to get Alex back out on track but there wasn’t time for him to get to the tapes in heat four and to compound the frustration for Spooner and all in the Fen Tigers’ camp, if heat six could’ve been just two or three minutes later he’d have been ready - but unfortunately he had to admit defeat on getting his machinery sorted and so was destined to play no part in proceedings.

Spooner was keen though to see the notional positives in discovering the fault this evening,

“Well, now we know and so can get this well & truly sorted in good time for Sunday’s vital Cup Tie match at Iwade away to Kent.  It doesn’t bear thinking about if the clutch had failed, say, in a heat 14 tie decider on Sunday – so all in all though today has been so frustrating it certainly could’ve been far worse.”

Meanwhile without their number one, the Fen Tigers levelled matters up at the half way point thanks to Hagon’s two heat wins and a battling display by the in form Bebee, all over Shanes in heat one.

The match was decided in heats four and five where two heat advantages by the hosts swung it Ipswich’s way.  Bebee was moving backwards as the tapes rose but set off playing catch up to Clouting; Woods being the hapless victim of his team mate’s charge, falling on lap two.  Shanes’ impressive win over Hagon combined with that bike trouble for Woods meant that only a last heat 1-5 to the visitors could save the Fen Tigers from defeat.  A word about how fast the track was running as Shanes’ winning time of 58.1 was in fact faster than EIGHT of the heats in the main match, and that was at Premiership level!

Clouting was anxious to get away quickly in the last heat decider and too keen as it turned out, by badly jumping the start and getting hauled back and warned.  Undeterred he was fastest away again in the rerun and despite great efforts from Messrs Hagon & Bebee there was no room back the Oxford Chargers’ man.

Of the evening’s work Jason Gardner said,

“l would like to thank Sam Hagon who had a great ride to pass James Shanes in heat three and Sam Woods for stepping in to help the team tonight, putting in a good effort with little reward.  It was of course a frustrating night for Alex with bike problems which should now be sorted for Sunday.  Sam Bebee carried on his good form and it was also nice to see a good amount of the crowd stay behind to watch the Junior Match in the Second Half.”

Next stop on the road for Messrs Spooner, Bebee and Warren and the full set of their Mildenhall Fen Tigers’ colleagues is to Iwade on May Day (Sunday 1st. May) to take on Kent Royals in the second leg of the KOC semi-final.

 Ipswich Reserves 20

James Shanes  3 2 3              = 8
Josh Warren    1 1' 0               = 2 +1
Jacob Clouting            2 3 3    = 8
James Laker   0 1 1                = 2

Fen Tigers Select 16
Alex Spooner  EF                  = 0
Sam Bebee     2 2 1'             = 5 + 1
Sam Hagon     3 3 2 2           = 10
Sam Woods    1 Fx 0 0          = 1

Heat details:

1 Shanes, Bebee, Warren, Spooner (EF)  60.2  [4-2]
2 Hagon, Clouting, Woods, Laker  60.6  [6-6]
3 (rerun) Hagon, Shanes, Warren, Woods (fell exc.)  59.8  [9-9]
4 Clouting, Bebee, Warren, Woods (fell exc.) 58.5  [13-11]
5 Shanes, Hagon, Laker, Woods  58.1 [17-13]
6 (rerun) Clouting, Hagon, Bebee  59.0  [20-16]