Battling Fen Tigers keep their unbeaten record
08:53 05 June 2012
Maximum hero Stefan Nielsen described himself as “over the moon”, after his first ever full house helped injury-hit Mildenhall Fen Tigers defy the odds with a magnificent performance at Rye House that maintained their unbeaten start to the National League season, winning 50-40.
They had to overcome the loss of Cameron Heeps, Joe Jacobs and Josh Bates, but led by a brilliant 18-points from Nielsen, they did it in style.
Remarkably Anglo-Dane Nielsen had never raced at Rye House before, something that seemed difficult to believe as the teenager turned in his best ever performance since he started in the sport.
“I’ve adjusted a few things since the World Under 21 meeting in Croatia and it’s all come right. I’m feeling more confident and the set-up I’ve got is working well.”
With skipper Lewis Blackbird looking back to his best with paid 15 after his recent shoulder injury, and young reserves Nathan Stoneman and Joe Graver chipping in with 10 points between them, the Tigers led throughout.
After a bright opening, it did look as though the tide was turning the Raiders’ way following a dramatic Heat 6 where they claimed a 5-1 when Blackbird had to start on a 15-metre handicap after breaking the tapes, and Stoneman was excluded after a frightening spill with home skipper David Mason.
That made it 17-19, and was as close as Rye House got as their luck ran out. Even though he somehow managed to take part in the rerun, Mason had to withdraw from the meeting with concussion.
After a succession of shared heats, Mildenhall pulled away to victory in an incident-packed series of races that saw Raiders star Ben Morley uncharacteristically coming to grief on more than one occasion, along with Fen Tigers Danny Halsey, Stoneman and guest Aaron Baseby.
Baseby’s fall in Heat 13 led to Raiders’ James Sarjeant being thrown out of the meeting and fined by the referee for headbutting, something that Fen Tigers co-promoter Michael Lee described as completely unacceptable.
“Aaron wanted to apologise and Sarjeant’s response was to headbutt him. We had problems with him last year when he was at Stoke, so had no hesitation in officially complaining to the referee and he dealt with it correctly.”
To the delight of the large travelling support, who’d come more in hope than expectation, a full four-point win was sealed in the final two races as teenager Joe Graver won the penultimate heat, before Nielsen and Blackbird claimed a last race maximum, with the captain sportingly slowing down to let Nielsen take the chequered flag.
Afterwards a delighted co-promoter Kevin Jolly said: “That has to be one of the best results since I got involved here. With three of our main riders missing, I really thought we’d struggle. But the boys dug deep and showed what a fantastic team spirit we’ve got.”
Rye House Raiders:
David Mason (c) 1’ 2’ = 3+2 withdrawn
Shane Hazelden 2 3 2 2 0 = 9
Ben Morley X X 3 X 1 = 4
Luke Chessell 2 3 0 2 = 7
James Sarjeant 1’ 2 3 2 = 8+1
Nick Laurence 1 1’ 1 1’ = 4+2
Ricky Mullins (g) 0 2 1’ 0 2 X = 5+1
Mildenhall Fen Tigers:
Aaron Baseby (g) X 2 2 F = 4
Joe Jacobs R/R
Stefan Nielsen 3 3 3 3 3 3 = 18
Daniel Halsey 1 1’ 0 1 1 = 4+1
Lewis Blackbird (c) 3 3 1 2 3 2’ = 14+1
Nathan Stoneman 3 X 1’ F 1 = 5+1
Joe Graver 2’ 0 0 3 = 5+1