Fen Tigers end Kent's home run
League-leading Mildenhall Fen Tigers continued on the winning on Monday evening as they recorded a 50-40 victory over the Kent Kings.
With the loss of Josh Bailey after a crash in his first ride and a couple of decisions going against them, this could have been a difficult evening in Kent against play-off rivals who boasted a 23-match home unbeaten run at Central Park.
There is, however, as much steel as skill in the Fen Tigers line-up as they regrouped to extend their unbeaten TPNL record to an incredible 15 meetings and hit the half century as they took all four points available to go to 50 from 52 available points this season.
Danny Ayres – returning to Kent as the Fen Tigers' number one – set the tone with Ryan Kinsley as the pair stormed to a 5-1 to open the meeting.
Reserve pairing Matt Marson and Sam Bebee repeated the feat in heat two and things looked very good for the visitors.
Heat three pulled the Fen Tigers camp up sharp as Bailey locked up in front coming off bend two and was hit hard from behind taking a heavy fall.
There was initially considerable concern for Josh as he was knocked out, but thankfully although unable to continue it was good to see the popular racer back in the pits with his team are some treatment and a full check.
Without Bailey the Fen Tigers split his ride between the reserves throughout the meeting.
After a 4-2 to the home team in the re-run of heat three a scintillating pillar to post win from Drew Kemp saw the Fen Tigers regain control and this was quickly followed by another 5-1 from the Ayres/Kinsley partnership.
The Fen Tigers held on to a 10-point lead going into heat 10 with two more fine rides from the unbeaten Kemp and another win from the highly impressive Kinsley.
Heat 10 saw a coming together on bend one between Jordan Jenkins and Paul Hurry with the home rider winning the ‘decision’ and Jenkins being excluded, the resultant 5-1 brought Kent within six points of the Fen Tigers.
However, the lead was immediately stretched to eight in the following heat as the unbeaten Ayres raced to a fine win with Kinsley in third unable to get past Jack Thomas.
A second 5-1 for the home team saw the lead down to only four ahead of a controversial heat 13.
With Kemp racing clear Ayres chased Hurry down the back straight and looked to have passed on the inside at speed with the Kent number one sliding off, again the Fen Tigers were on the wrong end of the decision as Ayres was excluded.
Totally unfazed by what was going on around him Kemp duly won the re-run for his fourth straight victory.
Heat 14 saw a fine captain's ride from Jenkins and with Bebee securing third place the Fen Tigers required a 4-2 in heat 15 to take maximum points.
Although Ayres gated in front, Kemp found himself at the back as the riders sorted themselves out off the second bend, biding his time the youngster lined up Thomas and Stoneman before producing a stunning double pass around bends one and two to join his partner for a 5-1 and seeing the Fen Tigers home 50-40.
Team boss Phil Kirk said: “After losing Josh so early our unbeaten record could have been on the line, but this team will not be put off their stride and upped their game to cover for Josh’s absence.
"Everyone contributed valuable points and the top boys really did the business when required.
"Drew’s ride in heat 15 was right out of the top drawer and completed a flawless maximum, while Danny could of and should of joined him without a very unlucky exclusion.
"Ryan was excellent again showing his liking for the Kent track and Jordan, Sam and Matt backed them upped with strong performances."
Fen Tigers 50
Drew Kemp 14+1 (5 rides), Danny Ayres 10+2 (5), Ryan Kinsley 10 (4), Jordan Jenkins 7 (4), Sam Bebee 5 (6), Matt Marson 4+1 (6) and Josh Bailey W/D
Jack Thomas 9+1 (5 rides), Anders Rowe 7+1 (4), Nathan Stoneman 7 (4), Taylor Hampshire 6+1 (4), Paul Hurry 6+1 (4), Alex Spooner 4+2 (5) and Jamie Couzins 1 (3)
* The win over Kent followed Sunday's convincing 57-33 home win over Eastbourne – a result that confirmed the Fen Tigers would end the National League campaign in top spot heading into the play-offs.