'Keep up the fast starts'
Josh Bailey feels that the Mildenhall Fen Tigers must continue their lightning starts in home meetings if they are to defeat the Birmingham Brummies on Sunday and make it 14 straight wins in the National League, writes Graham Clark.
In recent fixtures at Mildenhall Stadium against the Belle Vue Colts and Stoke Potters, the current table-toppers have left their opponents trailing at the starting blocks by opening up big advantages and putting themselves in command before the mid-meeting interval.
Although the Fen Tigers went down 37-34 to the Brummies in the first leg of their National League Knock Out Cup quarter-final clash, the 20-year-old is optimistic they can make it a hat-trick of wins over the Perry Barr outfit, having since defeated them in the league and cup.
“We know it’s going to be a tough meeting but recently we’ve been hitting teams hard in those first six or seven heats,” said Bailey.
“It has taken our opponents that amount of time before they have become dialled in so we have just got to continue doing that and hopefully we can come up with the end result.
“James Shanes has not been here for a while and neither has Danyon Hume. It is a tricky tight track here and although I’m sure they will come good they might struggle at first.
“Tom Bacon is a good gater and he loves a slick track so I imagine he will get dialled in from the start but I think between me, Danny (Ayres) and Drew Kemp we can sort him out.”
Fen Tigers manager Phil Kirk described his side’s 64-25 success over the Belle Vue Colts in the opening leg of their Knock Out Cup semi-final as the ‘performance of the season’.
Having claimed eight league points with a 37-53 victory over the Isle Of Wight Warriors last Thursday and 36-54 win over the Plymouth Devils on Friday, the Fen Tigers moved a step closer to the Knock Out Cup Final when slamming in seven 5-1s against the Manchester-based outfit.
The tone for the meeting was set with Drew Kemp, scoring the first of four heat wins on his way to a paid maximum (14+1), teaming up with Ryan Kinsley for an opening heat 4-2.
This was followed up by the reserve duo of Sam Bebee and Matt Marson taking a 5-1, ahead of a 5-0 from Bailey and Jenkins, and a 4-2 from Ayres and Bebee to open up an 18-5 lead .
Jack Smith briefly halted the one-way traffic when giving the visitors a 4-2 victory in heat five. But it was to prove to be to little avail with Kemp, Ayres and Kinsley all fronting 5-1s over the course of the next three heats.
Win number three of the meeting for Kemp and Ayres came in heats 10 and 11 respectively, before the pair teamed up in heat 13 to claim a 5-1 fronted by the later.
With captain Jenkins claiming his first win of the meeting in heat 14 it was left to Ayres and Kemp to swap places in the finale to give the former his first home maximum of the season.
“I don’t think we should underestimate Belle Vue as they came here with three good heat leaders, but we have blown them out of the water. It was the performance of the season,” said Kirk.
“It was not all from the front and when they gated we passed them. The top five boys scored 51 between them which is incredible while Sam and Matt excelled at reserve.”