Steve Worrall was the star man with 18 points for the Islanders. Picture by Mike Thomas lifestyleimaging.net
Wightlink Islanders 50, Mildenhall Fen Tigers 40 (90-90 on aggregate)
WIGHTLINK Islanders pulled off an incredible win at Smallbrook Stadium on Tuesday night — and forced an incredibly rare thing in speedway, a play-off replay.
With a ten-point deficit to overcome, Mildenhall having won the first leg 50-40, Islanders chipped away and, with a dramatic final heat victory, managed to win by exactly the same score, putting the sides level.
It means Islanders must travel again to Mildenhall, on Sunday, and then have another home second leg, on Tuesday night, where fans are urged to support the side.
Kev Shepherd said on Wednesday: "Last night’s match was probably one of the most exciting I’ve seen in a long time, and it was a shame more people didn’t go along. It would be great if more could support us again next week."
The match also featured one of the most spectacular crashes seen at Smallbrook for some time as well, as Brendan Johnson miraculously walked away from a high-speed smash on the final bend in heat eight, throwing him in the air and hurling him some metres before landing near the finish line. It is understood he broke his collarbone in the smash, as well as many more bumps and bruises, to rule him out for the rest of the season.
Thankfully for the Islanders, the referee awarded the heat to Brendan as he was leading, giving the Islanders a 5-1 heat advantage, and in the remainder of the heats, his team mates produced the points needed.
By the final heat, the Islanders still needed to make up two aggregate points.
Star guest rider Steve Worrall, who scored 18 points on the night, and skipper Tom Perry, who scored 12, held on to first second places on the first lap and looked set to clinch a place in the final against league champions Dudley. But referee Dave Watters had no option but to stop the race after Mildenhall’s Stefan Nielsen — who caused the crash with Brendan earlier — crashed for a second time on the night disqualifying him from the re-run.
The re-run saw opposition skipper Dan Halsey making a lightning fast start to lead for most of the race, and it looked as though the Islanders’ season was over. But Worrall somehow found a way past him on the last lap to snatch victory and with Perry getting the vital point for finishing third, the resultant 4-2 heat advantage in our favour meant the sides had finished level after all 30 races.