REPORT Saturday 23rd October 2021, 9:40pm
The Armadale Stellar Devils are reckoned to be a decent, solid side at National Development League level, especially since the introduction of Archie Freeman at reserve. But in the end they had no answer to the Champions and went down 34-56 in the second part of the double header which brings the Speedway season at Armadale to a close.
Team manager Alan Budzynski put a brave face on it as he said "I'm disappointed certainly, I thought we would get a win today. The conditions were tricky but we can't use that as an excuse because they were tricky for everyone."
At the end of the earlier Championship Cup Final between Edinburgh and Poole there had been an unexpected heavy shower, so track conditions were certainly slippery as the match began. The rain probably also sent home a few supporters who may have stayed on had weather been more favourable.
Fen Tigers had to avoid defeat by a massive 42 points to ensure that they won the National Development League (a highly unlikely defeat by that margin or more would have given Berwick Bullets the title). That could only have happened if virtually none of their riders had turned up.
However it was a far better match than the score suggests as the riders showed a willingness to race hard in the conditions, and top visitors Jenkins and Edwards were being made to fight for their points.
Fen Tigers led from the opening heat in which Jordan Jenkins beat William Lawson, and they were six up after the next heat in which both Devils fell. However Tom Woolley and Danny Phillips both won their opening heats with Phillips taking the notable scalp of Jason Edwards, currently a regular guest with the Edinburgh Monarchs. He rode a clever race on the dirt line after gating and refused to budge to Edwards' challenge.
The next five heat winners were all visiting riders, though heat 5 was perhaps the race of the season as Woolley and Jenkins (a Redcar regular at Championship level) swapped positions time and again.
The rider replacement for injured (indeed retired) Luke Ruddick was deployed strongly with Edwards and Ablitt taking the final two rides, and there was no way back for the Devils who trailed 30-18 at heat 8.
Another three shared races followed with heat 11 going to Phillips ahead of Jenkins, another excellent scalp. Tom Woolley won heat 12 but no-one could stop Jenkins and Edwards taking 5-1s in heats 13 and 15, nor Nathan Ablitt winning heat 14. Elliot Kelly, a former Caledonian Championship winner at Armadale, also got in on the act being paid for double figures, taking a couple of rides from Sam Bebee who hurt a leg in a first bend crash in heat 9.
Mildenhall had long since clinched the league title and certainly did it in style, captain Jenkins receiving the trophy from Alex Harkess under the watchful eye of team manager Malcolm Vasey, one of the hard-working unsung heroes of the National League.