Battling qualities needed to stand any chance of overcoming the champions
Team manager Robert Henry insists that the Mildenhall Fen Tigers will need to show the best of their battling qualities if they are to defeat National League champions Birmingham Brummies at home on Sunday (3pm), writes Graham Clark.
The Fen Tigers manager feels that a similar resolve to the one shown in their 50-40 win over the Stoke Potters in the second leg of Sunday’s Knockout Cup quarter-final will be needed if they are to bounce back from Monday’s 49-41 defeat against the Kent Kings.
“I think they can do it if they perform like they did against Stoke,” said Henry.
“If they can show that same fight and determination they will have a heck of a chance of beating them.
“(Captain) Jon Armstrong will keep them all fired up and reassure them all the time.
“If they can keep their consistency levels up then I am pretty sure we can win.”
While the Brummies will be missing the big-hitting former Fen Tiger Tom Bacon, who will be in action for Championship side Peterborough Panthers, Henry has singled out another rider that the Fen Tigers will have to contain.
“Taylor Hampshire has been going strong for them at reserve but he has had problems scoring here so hopefully that will happen again,” said Henry.
“With it essentially being his home track he will be keen to do well and he could, given the form he is in, get rid of those demons.”
It was almost a case of deja vu at Mildenhall Stadium on Sunday after the Fen Tigers — for the second home meeting in succession — required a last-heat maximum to maintain their unbeaten home record and salvage a Knock Out Cup quarter-final replay against the Potters.
Despite cutting the Potters’ 10-point advantage down to six after the first five heats, a maximum in heat eight for the Loomer Road outfit saw them increase their advantage back up to eight, before another 5-1 in heat 11 put them 32-34 up on the day and into a 12-point lead.
After the teams shared the spoils in heat 12, only three maximums from the last three heats would suffice for the Fen Tigers to force a replay.
With the first two in the bag, Dan Halsey and Jon Armstrong then turned on the style in the finale to claim a third 5-1 on the spin to tie the match at 90-90.
“When Kevin Jolly gave the speech on the microphone with a few races to go saying we are out I still thought we had a chance,” said Halsey.
“When we got the 3-3 in heat 12 I then thought maybe that it was past us but we got the 5-1 in heat 13 and Matt made the gate in 14 I knew Jordan was capable of passing their pair.
“I think I felt more pressure in heat 15 as I felt I had to do my part after last week. It is always a nice feeling winning heat 15 but it is even better when there is more on it.
“Hearing the crowd going wild and watching them pump their fists you can’t really explain that feeling.”
Mildenhall Fen Tigers 50: Ben Morley (g) 10+1, Danno Verge 2+1, Jon Armstrong 11+2. Jordan Jenkins 6+2, Dan Halsey 12, Lewis Whitmore 4, Matt Marson 5+1.
Stoke Potters 40: Mitchell Davey 10, Ryan Terry-Daley 4+2, Tony Atkin 8+1, David Wallinger 4+1, Luke Priest 6, Paul Burnett 3+3, Shaun Tedham 5.
Kent Kings 49: Ben Morley 15, Bradley Andrews 2, Ben Hopwood 5+1, Jack Thomas 9, Nathan Stoneman 5, George Hunter 4+1, Anders Rowe 9+1.
Mildenhall Fen Tigers 41: Connor Mountain 12, Danno Verge 2, Jon Armstrong 7+2, Jordan Jenkins 9+1, Dan Halsey 6+1, Andrew Palmer 1+1, Matt Marson 4+1.