Tigers must ‘step up’ in time for National League play-off charge

LEADING LIGHT: Stefan Nielsen, who scored a paid maximum for the Mildenhall Fen Tigers on Sunday, seen in action earlier this season
LEADING LIGHT: Stefan Nielsen, who scored a paid maximum for the Mildenhall Fen Tigers on Sunday, seen in action earlier this season
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Mildenhall Fen Tigers 50

Stoke Potters 40

Kevin Jolly has warned that the Mildenhall Fen Tigers will need to step up their game should they reach the end of season play-offs.

Fen Tigers co-promoter Jolly has issued the warning to his current crop of riders at the club after watching the National League champions struggle to see off basement side Stoke Potters on Sunday.

At one stage it looked as though the Potters were going to leave with all the points with them 37-35 ahead with three heats to go, but three heat maximums on the bounce for Suffolk club ensured there was to be no upset.

“We badly need some more fire in the engine room as we don’t want to be made to look silly in the play-offs,” said Jolly.

“Some of the riders have now got to man up or move on.”

While critical of several performances on Sunday Jolly praised the efforts of Stefan Nielsen, Daniel Halsey and Jon Armstrong.

“Dan, John and Stefan rode like three number ones out there,” he said. “They showed brilliant aggression and commitment and put their necks on the line,

“The 5-1 in heat 15 from Jon and Stefan really summed up the Mildenhall fighting spirit.”

Not helped by missing flying teenage heat leader Josh Bates, who injured his wrist while riding for the Edinburgh Monarchs in the Premier League on Friday, it took the Fen Tigers four heats before they established a lead.

That was when they gained a fortuitous 4-2, which would have been a 3-3 had Kyle Hughes not crashed late on, through Dan Halsey and Aaron Baseby.

Jon Armstrong and Liam Rumsey raced to similar outcome a heat later, with Rumsey using every ounce of energy to walk the bike over the line after tumble on the third bend of the final lap.

Stoke halved the deficit through a 4-2 of their own in heat eight through Lee Payne and Hughes, before Armstrong and Halsey combined to good effect for a 5-1 in heat 10.

The visitors gained the initiative for the first time at the end of heat 13 after a brace of 5-1s, both of which featured high scoring reserve Payne.

With the pressure now on Mildenhall had to dig deep in order to avoid a second home defeat.

Finding extra reserves, Mildenhall claimed a pair of 5-1s to clinch the meeting with a heat to spare.

While the meeting was won, the allocation of the points was undecided, but a stunning outside manoeuvre by Armstrong and pass up the inside by Nielsen on Lewis Rose gifted Mildenhall another 5-1 to leave the Potters empty-handed.

On Sunday Mildenhall will look to cement their postion in the end of season play-offs by picking up a win on the road at Buxton.

Mildenhall: S Nielsen 13+2; N Stoneman 0; J Bates R/R; J Armstrong 14+1; D Halsey 12; L Rumsey 2; A Baseby 9+1; C Mountain 0.

Stoke: L Rose 7+1; L Chessell R/R; S Worrall 8+1; L Priest 5+3; K Hughes 5; S Tedham 1+1; L Payne 14+2.