Mildenhall Fen Tigers 41 Cradley Heathens 48
Cradley win 116-68
Rob Henry blasted the poor performance delivered by his Fen Tigers following their elimination from the National League play-offs on Sunday.
With points thrown away at crucial times and some below-par displays from certain riders, the Mildenhall boss was left expressing disappointment at his side’s tame exit at the hands of their arch rivals.
“It was always going to be difficult to beat them, but we threw away a lot of points and we should have won the meeting today,” said Henry.
“Making starts and staying on the bike seemed to be a problem, while some of them looked at the track and didn’t want to know and didn’t attack it like Cradley did.
“Everybody did their bit but that is just not enough when you are up against a team like Cradley. You have got to be on the ball and ready to step up to any challenge.
“I just felt that Mildenhall were not Mildenhall today.”
Sharing Henry’s thought was co-promoter Chris Louis.
“Cradley are a good team and it looked like they wanted to race more than we did,” said Louis.
“I think there was definitely something missing today and they rode like there was nothing to ride for, which for me was disappointing.
“We wanted to win the last meeting at home against the best team as to have beaten them today would have been a great effort.”
Already faced with an uphill task heading into the second leg having lost the first one 68-27, Tigers did themselves few favours early on.
After sharing the spoils in the opener, Jack Kingston took the first of three falls while out in front of heat two, seeing a 4-2 to the Fen Tigers turn into a 5-1 to the Heathens on the 19-year-old’s exclusion.
Matters were to get worse in the following heat with guest Fen Tiger Dan Greenwood and Brendan Johnson proving powerless to prevent Max Clegg and Tom Perry teaming up for a 5-1.
A run of three shared heats was broken by a 4-2 to Heathens by Paul Starke and Conor Dwyer in heat six, a result which would have had a different outcome had Dan Halsey not fallen in second.
In a rare moment of joy, the Fen Tigers secured their first maximum just a heat later with Kingston leading home Joe Jacobs, in what would be the first of back-to-back wins for the former Kent Kings star.
A further three shared heats was broken by a 4-2 to the Heathens in heat 12 to open up their lead on the day to four points. That lead was quickly wiped out as Halsey shadowed Jacobs for 5-1 in heat 13 to bring the meeting scores level at 39 all.
Although the Heathens had long booked their place in the final, a win in the second leg looked a distinct possibility for the Fen Tigers with Kingston and Jacobs sitting on a 5-1 in the penultimate heat.
However, with Kingston falling while in front and Johnson excluded in the re-run after being judged to have taken out by Danny Phillips, it handed the Heathens a 5-0.
With both legs in the bag last year’s National League champions ensured their large contingent of travelling supporters would see them finish on a winning note with Paul Starke leading a 4-2.
The Fen Tigers are scheduled to ride their last meeting of the season today down in Plymouth against the Devon Demons.
Mildenhall: D Halsey 5+2; D Greenwood (G) 7+1; B Johnson 5+1; J Jacobs 12+1; J Kingston 7+1; C Mountain 5+1.
Cradley: S Lambert (G) 9; N Greaves 2; M Clegg 9; T Perry 6+1; P Starke 13; C Dwyer 3; D Phillips 6+2.