Play-off hopes now all but over for Tigers after rare home loss

HOPES CRUSHED: Skipper Jon Armstrong is trying to remain in upbeat mood after the Mildenhall Fen Tigers saw their play-off chances all but ended following a defeat to the Eastbourne Eagles.
HOPES CRUSHED: Skipper Jon Armstrong is trying to remain in upbeat mood after the Mildenhall Fen Tigers saw their play-off chances all but ended following a defeat to the Eastbourne Eagles.
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TRAVEL PLUS

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Mildenhall Fen Tigers 34

Eastbourne Eagles 56

Mildenhall Fen Tigers captain Jon Armstrong insists it is not all doom-and-gloom, despite the club’s aspirations of making a late bid to reach the play-offs suffering a major set-back against the Eastbourne Eagles.

While it is still mathematically possible for the West Row outfit to make the top four and reach the end of season shoot-out, the chances of that happening look to be remote following their crushing 22-point defeat at the hands of the Sussex side on Sunday.

“Today was crucial for us and it is a bit of a sickener. All fairness to Eastbourne though, they have been brilliant and are pretty useful,” he said.

“We thought they might be a little more relaxed as they are already in the play-offs but they came here and put it to us. We weren’t as hungry as they were for it. If the injuries to the likes of Connor Mountain and Kyle Hughes didn’t happen, we would have walked it.

“At the end of the day every lad in the team all year has given 100 per cent and you can’t ask for anymore than that.”

After enduring a torrid start, which saw the Eagles race into a six-point lead following the opening two heats, including the first of five wins in a 15-point maximum for Adam Ellis, the Fen Tigers fought back with successive 4-2s to keep them in touch.

Already weakened with the absence of reserve Jordan Jenkins, the Fen Tigers were to be further hindered as the talismanic Dan Halsey took a decision to pull out of the meeting after his third ride in heat eight, having earlier been left dazed after going under the second bend air fence.

Although Connor Coles stopped the one-way traffic momentarily with a win in heat nine, it was not long before normal service resumed as the Eagles gained heat advantages in all bar one of the remaining six races to inflict a first home defeat on the Fen Tigers in four months.

“This has just knocked us back as we were trying to get in the play-offs. There was a little bit of hope but it was still a hope,” said promoter Kevin Jolly.

“I know I am going to have criticism for not using Jordan Jenkins, but we have to look to the future so that he starts next year on a three-point average. Dan (Halsey) had a rare off day and although we kept them close early on we just fell apart. It was not the way we wanted our season to go.”

Tapes for the Fen Tigers’ clash with the Rye House Raiders at Hoddesdon on Sunday will go up at 6pm.

Scores

Mildenhall Fen Tigers 34: D Halsey 0, K Hughes R/R, C Coles 12, A Bowtell 6+1, J Armstrong 12, N Strudwick 1, S Woods 3+1.

Eastbourne Eagles 56: A Ellis 15, G Cottham R/R, E Perks 12, G Wood 9+1, J Knight 8+1, L Harris 7+2, C Powell 5+2.