Sunday June 26, 2022
LEICESTER’S youngsters gave their play-off hopes a major boost with a superb 50-39 win at champions Mildenhall on Sunday.

The Lion Cubs completed the double over the Fen Tigers and took all four league points in the process to add to their victory at Plymouth earlier in the season – and it moves them to within five points of NDL leaders Berwick, with two matches in hand.

Their victory was set up in a dramatic opening to the meeting in which the visitors grabbed a 5-1 and a 5-0, and that gave them an advantage to defend when the Fen Tigers fought back.

The opener saw Mickie Simpson take the big scalp of home No.1 Jason Edwards as he and Dan Thompson gated in front, with the more experienced Thompson shepherding his colleague home.

And after Vinnie Foord took control of Heat 2, the Lion Cubs took advantage of a disastrous Heat 3 for the hosts with both Jack Kingston and Sam Bebee crashing separately and being disqualified – leading to an unchallenged maximum for Tom Spencer and Connor Coles.

Wins for both Thompson twins meant it was Heat 6 before the Fen Tigers got a race win on the board through Edwards, and that was the first of three successive 4-2s as the Lion Cubs saw an 11-point lead trimmed to just five.

But a great ride from skipper Joe Thompson saw him take Heat 9 ahead of James Shanes with Foord securing a good third over Kingston, before Coles defeated Edwards in Heat 10 – and another 4-2 from Dan Thompson and Simpson, split by Shanes, meant the advantage was back up to nine points.

The teams traded 4-2s in Heats 12 and 13 with Coles coming to grief in the former, whilst Shanes managed to split the Thompsons in the next, although the race advantage effectively confirmed the Cubs’ away win.

That was made mathematical when Spencer passed Josh Warren for second place in Heat 14 although Foord came down, but there was still an important Heat 15 to come for the Cubs to confirm all four league points.

They needed to avoid conceding a race advantage to do so, and that was achieved in style by the Thompson twins, with Joe leading from the early stages whilst Dan surged inside Edwards for a 5-1 and the perfect end to the meeting.

Manager Dave Howard said: “It’s a massive result for us to win and to get all four points, and so far this season that’s the first home defeat for a top-six team.

“Obviously that’s very good for our play-off push, there’s more to come, but it was a fantastic performance by the guys today.

“It was a tricky track because they had a banger meeting yesterday, and they were watering after every race, but it was superb from us, especially when you consider Mildenhall very rarely lose at home, and they’ve got a very strong team on paper.

“Joe and Dan led the way as ever, Connor had a great overtaking move on Jason Edwards to beat him, and Mickie was pushing for everything, and it was great team riding in the first race between him and Dan to keep Jason out.

“Vinnie as well was really giving it his all, winning Heat 2 and taking other positions from the back, Tom was solid again, and for Max it was all about getting back into it after his injury and it was good to see him back on a bike.

“The team spirit is fantastic, riders and mechanics, and we all went round to shake hands with the fans. It’s great that there are some fans who go to virtually all of the Cubs away meetings, we really appreciate it, so we went to thank them personally at the end for their support.”

The Lion Cubs are back in action at Berwick on Saturday (7pm) in the first leg of their KO Cup semi-final, with the return at the Paul Chapman & Sons Arena on Sunday (4pm).

MILDENHALL 39: James Shanes 11, Jack Kingston 8, Jason Edwards 7, Sam Bebee 5+1, Luke Muff 4+2, Josh Warren 4, Alex Spooner r/r.
LEICESTER 50: Joe Thompson 14, Dan Thompson 11+2, Connor Coles 7+1, Mickie Simpson 7, Vinnie Foord 6, Tom Spencer 5, Max Perry 0.

Photo Credit: STEVE DIXON

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