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The depleted ranks of Mildenhall Fen Tigers – proudly sponsored by Manchetts Rescue & Recovery – went down to a heavy defeat at the National Speedway Stadium, losing 64-26 in the National Development League [NDL]  to Belle Vue Colts.

It was certainly an evening to forget – and talking of being forgetful, the NSS’s Starting Marshal had a couple of significant memory lapses early doors: miscounting the number of laps in both heats one and three!

The spelling of marshal often incorrectly includes a second ‘el’ and it was complete ‘el for the hapless official when having counted five in the opening heat, he made the more serious error of putting the chequered flag out after just three laps two races later. To the astonishment of all in the Fen Tigers’ camp and a fair few others beside, the ref allowed the result of the truncated heat to stand: a first 5-1 of the evening for the hosts and a lead that they were then never close to relinquishing.

Before that, heat two had given the visitors what was to prove to be their only race winner on the night and only heat advantage to boot: reserve pairing Josh Warren (recording yet another away heat victory) and Luke Muff delivering a 4-2.

Sadly though, it was to be a run of 5-1s by the Colts (along with a further five 4-2s for the Mancunians) which plummeted the Fen Tigers to their biggest defeat for a considerable time. Guest Greg Blair travailed for seven points to top score for the visitors; with paid five each from the two reserves and Jack Kingston. Returning Aussie Matt Marson scored two, his tally not helped by an over-zealous decision to exclude him for a starting offence when warming his tyre in heat 11. Marson showed some lightning relaxes out of the gate, leading the Colts’ eventual maximum man Jack Smith in the opening race, only succumbing on the penultimate lap.  

There other moments of potential green roots of recovery - Sam Bebee and Muff were leading the other homester destined to go through the card unbeaten, Harry McGurk in heat four before the GB U21 finalist overtook the Fen Tigers pair in one manoeuvre.

Then came another rather surprising decision from the referee in heat 10 when Kingston led only to see Smith and the other McGurk brother, Sam to overhaul him for another 5-1 – only to hear the younger McGurk sibling given a retrospective (some would call it belated) warning for moving at the start! Jack was leading again in heat 14 before Jake Mulford got round him followed by Archie Freeman – but the ever-tenacious Kingston fought back for a well-deserved second place; with Blair and Bebee really giving Harry McGurk and former Fen Tiger Nathan Ablitt plenty to contend with in the final race.

Finally though, this was a difficult encounter for the Fen Tigers with reduced resources and, as the truism goes, the best way to recover is to get back into the saddle as soon as possible – which is this Sunday (17/7), home at West Row to NDL basement side Armadale Devils.