Mildenhall Fen Tigers lose National League opener at Cradley Heathens by narrow margin
The Mildenhall Fen Tigers just missed out on a deserved National League season-opening victory at the home of arch rivals Cradley Heathens on Monday night, going down 46-44 in a last-heat decider.
Led by captain Danny Ayres in imperious form, the visitors were never behind but couldn’t stretch their advantage enough to see off a Cradley side that hung onto the Fen Tigers' tail.
Ayres received strong support from Jason Edwards and improving reserve Macauley Leek but all seven Fen Tigers contributed important points.
A 5-1 from Matt Marson and Leek in heat eight gave the Fen Tigers the largest lead of the evening but that couldn’t be maintained in heat nine when David Wallinger fell after clipping the fence on the back straight.
Heat 14 turned out to be pivotal as Edwards and Leek were on a match winning 5-1 when Luke Harris squeezed through on the inside of Leek, the Mildenhall reserve falling as he bravely tried to force his way back past Harris.
The ensuing 5-1 to the home side in heat 15 saw them squeeze home by the smallest of margins.
Mildenhall general manager Phil Kirk said: “We really deserved the three points this evening I feel. The lads should be proud of their efforts, especially with some of them racing at Monmore for the first time.
"Every member of the side gave their all and each contributed important points to the cause.
"There is already an excellent team spirit growing amongst the boys and we can take a lot of positives from tonight into Sundays KO Cup tie at Leicester.
"This is a team that is showing improvement with each meeting and will only continue to get better as the season progresses.”
Max Clegg 13 (5 rides), Lewis Whitmore 1 (4), Danny Halsey 11 (4), Luke Harris 6+2 (4), Tom Brennan 11+2 (5), Tom Spencer 2+2 (4), Harry McGurk 2 (4)
Fen Tigers 44
Danny Ayres 13 (5 rides), Matt Marson 5 (4), Charlie Brooks 4+2 (4), Jason Edwards 9 (5), David Wallinger 4 (4), Elliot Kelly 2+1 (3), Macauley Leek 7+3 (5)