Dejected looks filled the faces of Dan Halsey and Joe Jacobs as the Mildenhall Fen Tigers once again came up short in the National League Pairs.
Twelve months after finishing second to the Cradley Heathens, the Fen Tigers were once again forced to play a supporting role in the competition on Sunday — this time finishing a point behind the Stoke Potters duo of Jon Armstrong and Ben Wilson.
“It is just disastrous really,” said Halsey, who was also part of the Fen Tigers losing pairs team from 2013. “It was there for us to take.
“Last year I had a good meeting myself and this year was the total opposite.
“I just didn’t make the starts all day and when you don’t make the starts against riders like this it is hard to pass one of them let alone two and at the end of the day I have cost us the meeting.
“I don’t even want to begin to think about next year, I just want to forget this as soon as possible.”
The Potters announced themselves as serious contenders for the title right from the word go by rattling off three consecutive 7-2 results to ease through as Group A winners ahead of the Buxton Hitmen pairing of Liam Carr and Tony Atkin.
Riding in what was to perceived to be the tougher-looking group B, the Fen Tigers started the meeting by taking a 5-4 against the Heathens pair of Steve Worrall and Max Clegg, before racing to a facile 7-2 over the Devon Demons duo of James Shanes and Richard Andrews.
Halsey and Jacobs ensured the Fen Tigers qualified as Group B winners by recording a 6-3 win in their final outing against the Kent Kings combination of Simon Lambert and Ben Morley, who also went through from Group B after getting the better of the Heathens on head-to-head scores.
The Potters continued from where they left off in the final when retaining their unbeaten status with a second 7-2 win over the Hitmen, while in a what was to be a rerun of the concluding heat from Group B, Halsey and Jacobs registered a 6-3 against the Kings.
Jacobs and Halsey produced what looked to be a decisive heat win over the Potters deadly duo.
While Jacobs raced away to his third straight win of the afternoon, it was the last-lap pass by Halsey on Wilson to take third that proved to be the decisive move, giving the Fen Tigers a 6-3 as opposed to a 5-4 in favour of the Potters.
With the erratic riding of Lambert unable to prevent the Potters from slamming home another 7-2 in the concluding heat, it meant the Fen Tigers needed to avoid losing their final outing against the Hitmen in order to have any chance of winning the title.
Although Jacobs made yet another flying start, Halsey was unable to match his race partner’s effort as he stumbled out of the gates to find himself stuck in last.
Despite trying his hardest there was to be no way back for Halsey with the Fen Tigers skipper trailing home last for the first time in the meeting to hand the title to the Potters.
“This is the only National League trophy I have not won so I am really pleased to have come away with it,” said Armstrong, who turns 40 in August.
n The Fen Tigers’ scheduled National League clash against the King’s Lynn Young Stars on Friday was postponed due to roadworks.
With no meeting scheduled for this weekend, the Fen Tigers will next be in action at Monmore on Tuesday when taking on the Cradley Heathens in the second leg of the National League Knockout Cup.