LEICESTER captain Dan Thompson was the hero with a brilliant Heat 15 effort to secure a dramatic 46-44 win at Mildenhall on Sunday.

The Lion Cubs took a big stride towards the NDL play-offs as they went top of the table with this key victory at the home of one of their main rivals, and they did it with Thompson coming from the back against home duo Alfie Bowtell and Lee Complin in the decider.

Thompson led the way with a super paid-17 haul from six rides, but this was a tremendous overall effort from the depleted visitors, who achieved the result against the former league leaders without injured duo Joe Thompson and Tom Spencer.

The Lion Cubs made a perfect start to the meeting with Thompson and Ashton Boughen collecting a 5-1 over the home side’s top man Bowtell, with Boughen doing well to re-pass the Fen Tigers’ No.1.

But the home side levelled in Heat 2 when Vinnie Foord fell on the first lap, and a close contest developed with Mildenhall edging ahead and the Cubs levelling again in Heat 4 after Complin had crashed out.

Thompson raced to a hat-trick of wins in the first five races, but the Fen Tigers moved back into the ascendancy with 5-1 from Bowtell and Arran Butcher in Heat 6, before taking a 4-2 in Heat 7 when Max James took a fall on turn four, although he was able to continue in the meeting.

The next three races were shared with Boughen crucially splitting Butcher and Josh Warren in Heat 8 with the Fen Tigers reserve coming to grief as the race ended in a 3-3.

But the Cubs suffered a dose of bad luck in Heat 9 with Boughen holding a clear lead in a likely 5-1 with Foord until suffering mechanical trouble on the third lap, enabling the home side to salvage a 3-3.

Leicester did level the scores in Heat 11 with another super 5-1 from Boughen and Thompson to get the better of Complin, and the home side lost Warren in a crash with Max Perry in Heat 12 which saw the Mildenhall rider unable to take an expected ride in Heat 14.

Former Lion Cubs racer Ben Trigger won the re-run to leave the match poised at 36-36, before the Fen Tigers edged back ahead in a terrific Heat 13 which saw Bowtell take the flag to end Thompson’s unbeaten run, with Complin in third place.

But the visitors hit straight back in Heat 14 as James and Foord came up with a big 5-1 over George Congreve and William Richardson, taking the Cubs into the decider two points up.

Thompson and Boughen went up against Bowtell and Complin, and with the Fen Tigers on an early 5-1 it looked like a turnaround could have been on the cards – but that was before Thompson came up with a stunning effort to seal the points and take the Lion Cubs to the top.

Manager Dave Howard said: “Dan’s ride in Heat 15 coming from third to first was absolutely amazing, especially on a track which was uncomfortable for some today.

“The way he came round and underneath Bowtell and Complin was just outstanding to clinch the win, but everybody played their part with some good rides, and crucial rides to keep us in touch.

“It was a great performance from the whole team. We had some bad luck with both Max Perry and Max James, and Ashton had an engine failure, but they also had some great rides and we kept in touch for the whole meeting.

“Then we got those vital 5-1s in Heats 11 and 14, with the one in Heat 14 from Max James and Vinnie Foord taking us in front – and then Dan did his amazing ride to come from the back in Heat 15.”

The Lion Cubs are back in action next Saturday (August 12) when they visit Berwick, with hopes that both Joe Thompson and Spencer could be fit to resume in that meeting.

MILDENHALL 44: Alfie Bowtell 11+1, Ben Trigger 10, Lee Complin 7, Arran Butcher 5+1, Josh Warren 5, George Congreve 3+1, William Richardson 3+1.
LEICESTER 46: Dan Thompson 16+1, Ashton Boughen 8+1, Max Perry 7, Vinnie Foord 6+2, Max James 6+1, Sam Woods 3+1, Joe Thompson r/r.

Photo credit: MARK LEE-SING

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