Skipper turns attention to cup after seeing off league leaders
Jon Armstrong expects the Mildenhall Fen Tigers to have enough in their armoury to overturn a 10-point deficit in the second leg of their National League Knockout Cup quarter-final against the Stoke Potters, writes Graham Clark.
Having starred in a thrilling last-heat decider with Jordan Jenkins during the club’s 46-44 victory in the league over table-topping Eastbourne Eagles at the weekend, the Fen Tigers captain hopes to serve up more on-track fireworks on Sunday and help book his side a place in the last four.
“It does make the meeting more interesting, but we should by all rights wipe the floor with them,” said Armstrong.
“We didn’t have lady luck on our side that night at Stoke (50-40), especially in heat 14 when Jordan broke down and Danno (Verge) touched the tapes.
“We have just lured them into a false sense of security. Hopefully we can pull the points back by heat three.”
While the West Row outfit will enter the meeting against the Potters on the back of their eighth straight home win in all competitions this season, it was one that looked to have escaped them.
After racing into a 10-point lead after three heats, initiated by a 5-1 from guest Connor Coles and Jenkins, the Sussex side, with the help of a maximum headed by Jake Knight in heat four, and a 4-2 fronted by Georgie Wood in heat five, soon narrowed the gap to four points.
Another 5-1 led home by Jenkins and backed up by William O’Keefe in heat eight saw the Fen Tigers lead extended to eight points, however that cushion disappeared with the Eagles registering back-to-back maximums in heats 13 and 14 to put them up 43-41 entering the finale.
With the visitors opting to send out the almost invincible pair of Knight and Wood, the hosts’ team manager Rob Henry elected to go with Jenkins, who somehow walked away from a serious looking crash in heat 10, and Armstrong in a bid to secure the 5-1 needed for victory.
Although Jenkins blasted away from the tapes it looked like his effort would be to no avail, but having hit the second bend in last, Armstrong was soon sitting behind his race partner, having found a way past the visiting duo.
Keeping matters tight, the gamble to go with youth and experience paid off as Jenkins stormed to his second win of the meeting, closely followed in second by Armstrong.
“After the crash in heat 10 I didn’t know if I would do heat 15 as I was quite sore behind,” said Jenkins.
“I was only a little bit nervous when they said they wanted me to go in heat 15. I knew if I made the gate I could ride where I wanted to.
“I’ve only been in heat 15 twice and I have won them both. It was quite nice hearing the crowd cheering that win.”
n The Fen Tigers will be back in league action on Monday when facing the Kent Kings at Sittingbourne (6.30pm).
Mildenhall Fen Tigers 46: Connor Coles (g) 7+1, J Jenkins 10+1, J Armstrong 11+1, Danno Verge 4+2, Dan Halsey 6, Lewis Whitmore 1, William O’Keefe 7+2.
Eastbourne ‘Eagles’ 44: Jake Knight 12+1 (5 rides), Georgie Wood 10 (5), Mark Baseby 7 (4), Tom Brennan 5+3 (4), Matt Bates 5+1 (5), Charley Powell 3 (4) and Alex Spooner 2 (3).