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Mildenhall Fen Tigers – proudly sponsored by Manchetts Rescue and Recovery – moved into the top four in Speedway’s National Development League [NDL] with a truly emphatic performance over rivals for the all-important Play Off positions, Oxford Chargers.

Breaking the 50 points barrier for the second time in a week over a side who up to this major turnaround had seemed themselves all but certain to bag a coveted top four finish in the NDL table, now puts the Fen Tigers on the very cusp of that distinction themselves – with just two home matches to go (coming in one fell swoop in a double header next week).

Having achieved that notable victory at Cowley on Wednesday there was to be no slip up at West Row on Sunday (28/8) for Jason Gardner’s side who led from the outset and absolutely sealed the deal with an extraordinary run of four 5-1s from heats 12 to 15 inclusive to turn a win into a veritable drubbing.

Oxford will doubtless point to the absence through injury/illness of former Mildenhall number one, their skipper Jordan Jenkins from both matches and the unexpected paucity points wise of their choice of ‘Guests’. Following on from Ben Morley’s extraordinarily disappointing showing on Wednesday, the Chargers replacement for the injured Nathan Stoneman,  Greg Blair had a shocker on Sunday – the Scot recording just two points.

But it’s highly doubtful that even West Row track specialist Jenkins could’ve done enough to stem the tide for a Mildenhall side growing in confidence by the match.

None least the hugely in-form Josh Warren who followed up last Sunday’s paid 19 with an almost as prolific paid 17. Indeed, had it not been for a tumble when leading heat two the Peterborough-born racer may actually have beaten his total of seven days previously.

And the other factor that has clearly turned things firmly in favour of the Fen Tigers in the race to make the title-deciding play offs has been the return from a shoulder injury of Alex Spooner: with scores of paid 12, paid 9 and now paid 13 in his three matches over the past eight days.

It was Warren combining with skipper Jason Edwards who set the ball rolling with a 5-1 in the opening heat (Edwards looking like he was well set to carry on his fine unbeaten record with a 23rd. win in a row in a Fen Tigers race jacket). And though Warren’s mishap in heat two saw him excluded, so - in a twice rerun race - were both of the Chargers also for falls leaving the returning Luke Muff an unchallenged jaunt around the track for a heat win.

Heat six was a reprise of the opening race (win number 24 for the skipper) and the lead was now eleven points.

The only opposition rider making inroads into an otherwise utterly dominant opening half of the meeting was one of Oxford’s ex Fen Tigers, Henry Atkins who took the chequered flag in heats five and eight – the former in what was actually to be the fastest time of the match. 

Then, a blip – another ex-Mildenhall man Sam Hagon was lightning fast out of the traps in heat 10 and with Edwards on his least favoured outside gate, the previously undefeated for four and a half matches teenager was trailing in third, also behind 15-year-old prodigy Jody Scott. The Mildenhall skipper looked like he’d maybe pipped Scott in a last desperate dash to the line; but no, it was a 5-1 to the visitors: the gap down to seven.

Also unbeaten in his first two rides had been Mildenhall’s ‘Guest’ – the ever-exciting Lee Complin. And the North Yorkshireman was out in the next heat, – only to fall when leading the race. But who was on hand to steady the ship?  Josh Warren who splendidly held off the Chargers’ two main men, Hagon & Atkins to keep the eight points lead intact. That seemed to break the spirit of the visitors and certainly lifted the hosts who went on a scoring spree increasing the winning margin by a further 16 points in that orgy of 5-1s to close proceedings.

Taking the reins on his own again (with co-Team Manager Malcolm Vasey experiencing a car breakdown on the way to the track) Jason Gardner summed up what everyone in the Fen Tigers camp is feeling right now,

“I’m so chuffed – this week couldn’t have worked out better. Today was another all-round team performance and to get results of these magnitudes against one of the division’s top sides really shows we’ve hit a great vein of form at exactly the right time.

“There was just a tiny moment of concern in heat 10 that maybe it might get close but we brushed that aside very quickly.

“New averages come into force on 1st. September, so next week Josh [Warren] will move into the main body of the side but we’re certain that won’t phase him, not when he can beat top performers like Hagon & Atkins as we saw today. And it’s Alex [Spooner] who’ll move down to reserve which could be an absolute trump card with the form he’s showing in the last three matches since returning to the team”.

“There’s no complacency possible – we still need maximum points against Berwick (who actually currently do lead the league table) and Plymouth in next Sunday’s double header and that’s what we need to concentrate on right now”.

That double header is next Sunday, 4th. September – normal 3pm start time and sees the two visiting sides (from exactly opposite sides of the country) Berwick Bullets and Plymouth Centurions seeing if they can stop the Fen Tigers’ charge to the Play Offs and stall the reigning champions’ defence of their NDL title.

Mildenhall Fen Tigers 55 
Jason Edwards           3, 3, 1, 3, 2’          = 12+1
Rider Replacement – Sam Bebee
Jack Kingston            FX, R, R                 = 0
Alex Spooner            3, 2, 1’, 3, 3             = 12+1
Lee Complin [G]        3, 3, 0, 2’, 3            = 11+1
Josh Warren             2’, FX, 2’, 2, 3, 3, 2’   = 14+3
Luke Muff                 3, 1, 0, 2’                = 6+1
Sam Woods              0                            = 0

Oxford Chargers 32
Rider Replacement -
Henry Atkins             1, 3, 3, 1’, 1, 1         = 10+1
Sam Hagon              2, 2, 3, 2, 1, 0          = 10
Jody Scott                1’, 1, 1’, 2’, 1            = 6+3
Greg Blair [G]           0, 0, F, 2, 0              = 2
Arran Butcher           FX, 2, 1, 0, 1’, F, 0     = 4+1
Jacob Clouting          FX                           = 0 withdrawn – injured

Heat details
1 Edwards, Warren, Atkins, Blair  51.8  [5-1]
2 (rerun twice) Muff, Clouting (fell exc.), Warren (fell exc.), Butcher (fell exc.) 57.3 [8-1]
3 (stpd/awarded) Spooner, Hagon, Scott, Kingston (fell exc.) no time [11-4]
4 Complin, Butcher, Muff, Blair 51.9  [15-6]
5 Atkins, Spooner, Scott, Kingston (fell rem. ret.) 51.3 [17-10]
6 Edwards, Warren, Butcher, Blair (fell) 51.6  [22-11]
7 Complin, Hagon, Scott, Muff 53.6  [25-14]
8 Atkins, Warren, Spooner, Butcher 52.0  [28-17]
9 Spooner, Blair, Butcher, Kingston 53.8  [31-20]
10 Hagon, Scott, Edwards, Woods 52.8  [32-25]
11 Warren, Hagon, Atkins, Complin (fell rem.) 54.3  [35-28]
12 (rerun twice; stpd/awarded) Warren, Muff, Hagon, Butcher (fell) no time  [40-29]
13 Edwards, Complin, Atkins, Blair 53.7  [45-30]
14 Spooner, Warren, Scott, Butcher 54.3  [50-31]
15 Complin, Edwards, Atkins, Hagon 54.1 [55-32]