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After an hour and a half delay due to the meeting ambulance breaking down on route, the ‘KJM/Manchetts’ incredibly turned round a thirteen point deficit in the last five heats to claim a memorable victory that will live long in supporters memories in the Suffolk sunshine.
The afternoon had started so positively with the official opening of the new air fence sponsored by club partners Manchetts before the crowd greeted guest Joey Abbs to be presented with a collection for Shaun Whiter and Abbs following an horrific road incident that left both footballers suffering serious injury. With supporters waited patiently for the ambulance to show, most bathing in the sunshine, the clock ticked past 5pm before a wheel was turned in anger and from then on the action was non-stop.
A Fen Tigers 5-1 in heat one saw the Kings Luke Bowen slide off before remounting to finish, this was followed by a 2-3 in heat two with both Sam Bebee and Danno Verge excluded. Heat three then saw Connor Coles come to grief before Kyle Hughes led all the way to the last bend where he slid off allowing the Kings pairing through for a 5-1. Hughes fell when leading in heat five in the exact same spot this time through crashing onto the centre green hitting Coles on route. Unfortunately for the Fen Tigers debutant he was withdrawn with a shoulder injury leaving the home side in a difficult position. The first running of heat five had seen Luke Clifton crash on the first bend, withdrawing with a wrist injury reducing the Kings to five riders. They battled on manfully though showing why they hold a high league position, a 5-1 in heat ten putting them thirteen points ahead with five heats left and seemingly in and unassailable position!
They hadn’t counted on the spirit of the ‘KJM/Manchetts’ Fen Tigers though and a third heat win of the afternoon by Danny Halsey in heat eleven with Bebee third saw the lead down to eleven. Heat eleven also witnessed a horrifying spill for Luke Bowen which he thankfully walked away from. Heat twelve saw teenage starlet debutant Jordan Jenkins burst from the start for a pillar to post victory again supported by Bebee in third and the crowd were just starting to sense the improbable becoming very possible. Halsey and Jon Armstrong rode the perfect 5-1 in heat thirteen and suddenly the home side were sensing victory, five behind with two heats to go.
When Jenkins again gated in heat fourteen with Coles alongside the crowd erupted, their joy was somewhat tempered when David Mason passed Coles but Jenkins’ second impressive victory left the Fen Tigers needing a 5-1 in the final race to claim victory. Stand in Team Manager Phil Kirk had no hesitation turning to the experience of Armstrong and Halsey for heat fifteen as the Kings selected Mason and Shanes. There was another twist before the heat started when Mason went across the centre green to the start and was excluded. His place was taken by highly impressive reserve Jack Thomas. As the tapes rose Halsey and Armstrong were away and team rode to victory cheered on by a now ecstatic West Row crowd. A long afternoon had ended perfectly for the home support and Club Chairman Kevin Jolly was quick to acknowledge everyone’s patience, he said “I would like to apologise to everyone who visited Mildenhall today for the delay which was unfortunately out of our hands. The ambulance broke down on route to the track and we had no option but to wait for a replacement, rider safety has to be paramount at all times.
The track was difficult to start with on what was a windy and hot day, but obviously an hour and a half delay didn’t help things and the track staff did their very best in the circumstances I felt. Once it settled it was fine and gave a meeting with everything. I am so proud of our lads today who fought back so well in the second half of the meeting, although this is somewhat tempered by Kyle Hughes injury. Kyle has had no luck at all this season and hopefully his injury is not as bad as initially thought”.
Mildenhall ‘KJM/Manchetts’ Fen Tigers 45
Danny Halsey 14+1 (5), Jon Armstrong 11+1 (5), Jordan Jenkins 9 (5), Connor Coles 5 (4), Alfie Bowtell 3+1 (4), Sam Bebee 2 (5), Kyle Hughes 1 (2)
Kent ‘SYLDE’ Kings 44
James Shanes 12 + 1 (6), Jack Thomas 12 (7), Danno Verge 7+2 (7), David Mason 7+ 1 (6), Luke Bowen 6 (4), Luke Clifton 0 (1), R/R Danny Ayres
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