Tough start for Fen Tigers

IT usually takes a club at least a month or two to clock up a pair of postponements plus a couple of injuries but Mildenhall have managed it just two weeks into the new speedway season.

IT usually takes a club at least a month or two to clock up a pair of postponements plus a couple of injuries but Mildenhall have managed it just two weeks into the new speedway season.

“It can only get better,” was team manager Laurence Rogers' rueful remark as he looked back over a frustrating fortnight for the Fen Tigers. Something he was also muttering to himself at 30-6 down against Rye House on Tuesday.

As they prepared for this week's ultra tough away matches at Rye and Birmingham, Mildenhall had skipper Robbie Kessler plus Shane Colvin on the injured list, had suffered a hammering at King's Lynn's weirdly re-shaped circuit, and saw their first two home fixtures wiped out by rain, then Easter Sunday snow.

Kessler should be fit for this weekend's delayed West Row opener after suffering concussion in the inter-league challenge at Peterborough, but Colvin is facing a three or four week's lay-off with damaged knee ligaments following his crash at the Norfolk Arena.

“Not much has gone right after our very encouraging meeting at Peterborough,” said Rogers, and he stressed: “I hope nobody judges us by the big defeat at King's Lynn.

“I expect that result (66-24) will have convinced the so-called pundits in the sport that they are correct in writing us off, but there were a lot of elements we are not going to see in other meetings.

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“The narrowing of the first and second bends at the Arena due to the wet weather made it very difficult for us considering some of our riders had hardly any experience there. It just added to the home advantage the Stars always have.

“Shane Colvin suffered a tape exclusion in his first race when he didn't touch them, and Jan Graversen was on his way to a six-pointer when he was excluded. He did make contact with Rusty Harrison but it looked as though Rusty had already lost it by then.

“But Taj (Laukkanen) gave us all a lift by beating their top pair from the back in the nominated heat, and at Rye the 59-33 scoreline meant it was 29-27 for the last nine heats, which is impressive for a new team down there.

“A tough start for us has been made even harder by the weather because we are going to have ridden away matches in the trophy against three of the top teams without the benefit of a home meeting to boost confidence.

“And Robbie's injury has hit us hard because rider replacement doesn't allow us to use Taj or Jan instead of him.”

Mildenhall will bring in a Newcastle's Dan Giffard as a guest to replace Colvin in Sunday's match, the opening Premier League fixture, against Berwick Bandits.

Meanwhile Colvin's return (from his home in France) to British Speedway looks like it may have lasted just one and a bit races.

His knee ligament injury is set to sideline him for three weeks or so, by which time the rider he replaced in the Mildenhall line-up, New Zealand U21 champion Grant Tregoning should have cut through the visa red tape.

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