IT’S THE FINAL COUNTDOWN

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A WAR of words has broken out between the Stoke Potters and the Mildenhall Fen Tigers ahead of Sunday’s Knockout Cup final first leg at West Row (4.30pm).

Comments attributed to Stoke manager Malcolm Vasey on an internet forum suggest he was deeply unhappy with the Tigers’ signing of teenage Australian sensation Cameron Heeps, who joined the West Row outfit as a reserve but quickly established himself as the number one rider.

But Mildenhall co-promoter Michael Lee has hit back at Vasey, suggesting the Potters are “running scared”.

“It’s out of order because he’s obviously referring to Cameron,” said Lee. “If we’re talking about the integrity of the league then we can use Simon Lambert (Stoke’s number one) as a reference.

“He’s way too good for the National League – he’s been a regular in the Premier League for the last three years.

“Maybe Stoke are running scared. They have every reason to because I feel our boys will pull out all the stops to beat them.”

Originally, both legs of the cup final were to be raced this weekend, but with Manchester United visiting Stoke City for a Barclays Premier League football match, Stoke asked the leg at Loomer Road to be moved back to Saturday, October 22.

“We’ll have to be kept in suspense with that for a few weeks,” said Lee, who has targeted a 10-point win at West Row on Sunday to take to the Potteries next month.

“We know how good Stoke are, but we are not scared of them,” added the former speedway world champion, turned Mildenhall promoter.

Sunday’s clash will be the first of four meetings between the sides in the coming weeks, with the two play-off semi-final legs to take place the following weekend and the second leg of the cup final on October 22.

And Lee is gunning for victory so that the reformed Tigers end their first season with at least one of the two pieces of silverware on offer to them.

“Go back to the start of the season and we were just looking to maintain our status, but we’ve come a long way,” he said. “Myself, Chris (Louis) and Kev (Jolly, co-promoters) have always had the ambition of achieving whatever is possible, but it’s happened much quicker than we thought it would.”

Tigers: Cameron Heeps, Mark Baseby, Joe Jacobs, Lewis Blackbird, Jack Hargreaves, Dan Halsey, Aaron Baseby.