Wightlink Islanders suffered yet more injury woe on Sunday afternoon in Suffolk with reserve John Resch crashing out of his first ride in heat 2 in the National league fixture against Mildenhall Fen Tigers.
With the news that Chessell will be out of the saddle for a while with fractured coccyx and sternum and with Tom Hill also on the injured list Rikki Mullins was due to be drafted drafted into the number 6 slot for this weekend’s fixture. Mullins failed to show after an early morning call informing the club he couldn’t make it so Niall Strudwick was drafted in as cover at the last minute.
The Islanders were on a 5-1 in the 1st heat which turned into a 4-2 to the Fen Tigers after Paul Starke fell while lying 2nd on the 4th turn 2nd lap, a revitalised Rob Smith splitting the home pairing of James Brundle who fought his way from the back to take the win passing the Islanders exiting the 4th turn 1st lap in one pass with Aaron Baseby 3rd.
John Resch came off turn 4 in heat 2 picking up grip and was a passenger slamming into the unforgiving safety fence from 3rd place on the 2nd lap. After a lengthy delay with the paramedics treating the young Islander on the track he was transferred to the waiting ambulance and whisked off to Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge where it was revealed be had broken his thigh in two places.
In the re-run Joe Jacobs took the win on his way to a paid maximum from team mate Nick Laurence. A shared heat 3 with Lewis Blackbird winning from Brendan Johnson and Lee Smethills while Daniel Halsey fell while lying 3rd.
Jacobs again took the spoils in heat 4 with Islanders skipper Nick Simmons kept Jack Hargreaves pinned back in 3rd. Blackbird followed with his 2nd win in heat 5 putting the Fen Tigers 10 points up, Halsey was unable to do anything about Rob Smith in 2nd place. Simmons took a tactical ride for double points in the next heat splitting the Fen Tigers Brundle and Baseby keeping the margin to 10.
Hargreaves and Laurence combined for a 5-1 over Johnson and Smethills in heat 7 which prompted the Islanders 2nd tactical ride of the meeting, this time Smith battled hard for 2nd spot behind Jacobs battling through on the inside of the 1st turn 2nd lap which unsettled Baseby who slid off into the fence. The heat was re-run with again Jacobs out front, Smith 2nd from team mate Strudwick.
Halsey took his first win of the night with Simmons sandwiched between him and Blackbird in heat 9 before a series of 5-1′s in 4 consecutive heats. 3 for the Fen Tigers and the Islanders managing one in heat 11. Brundle in immaculate form from Baseby sped off in heat 10 for the Fen Tigers with Johnson 3rd, followed by the Islanders Smith and Starke over Laurence after Hargreaves was disqualified for causing Smith to fall 2nd bend 1st lap.
The Fen Tigers hammered home some big points in the remaining 4 heats, Halsey and Jacobs 5-1 over Smethills in heat 12 followed by Brundle and Hargreaves 5-1 over Simmonds and Starke in the next. Johnson split Blackbird and Laurence in heat 14 but the Fen Tigers pair of Blackbird and Jacobs rubbed salt in the wounds in the final heat over Simmons and Smith after Smith hit the tapes and had to take a 15 metre handicap to give a final score of 61-33.
Islanders skipper Nick Simmons said; “When that happens it’s horrendous really, John is going to be out for a long time now. To be fair to John he was in pretty good spirits, he knew exactly what he had done, I was sat with him for some time, it’s important to have a familiar face to chat to, I wish John all the best. John was someone that we needed, a good reserve and was going really well, it’s a big blow today but also for the rest of the season.”
“I actually enjoyed riding here today, it’s nice to ride with a bit of dirt on the track you can have a bit more of a race and run out wide and not go backwards. Sometimes places with a bit of dirt are tricky to start with but when the dirt has turned over they normally become good race tracks and that was proven the case today.”
Islander co-promoter Chris Hunt said; “Saying that we’re absolutely devastated is a mild word really, the way we feel at the moment this could be the turning point of our season and not for the good. We don’t want to make any rash decisions we’ve got to look at our options and see who is available for us. John was going so well at reserve for us and I don’t think that there is a replacement out there for him, thankfully we don’t have any meetings for a couple of weeks.”
Brendan Johnson has taken a booking to ride in France this week with Islanders team mates Rob Smith and Paul Starke said; “We all came to Mildenhall with high spirits but when you see your number one crash in heat 1 and your reserve unfortunately in heat 2 suffering a nasty injury, everybody’s heads go down a little bit, after that it’s kind of hard to build yourself back up again. I scored in each of my rides, scoring over my average, I’ve got nothing to worry about really, it wasn’t a good meeting and wasn’t a bad meeting. We’re off to France for a few days on Tuesday, 6 man races which is going to be an experience, it’s good to get opportunities like this.”
Islanders other co-promoter Kevin Shepherd added; “I think the meeting after heat 2 took a secondary effect, obviously John suffered a very, very bad injury. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and what his family are going through at this moment in time. It’s the end of his season but the way things are looking the boys put on a good performance considering the circumstances that hit them so early in the meeting.”
Islanders injured reserve Tom Hill was helping Rob Smith during the meeting and gave an update on his injured hand; “It’s going alright, I’ve been to hospital twice this week for new dressings, I’m back on Tuesday to have the cast off and another x-ray to see how it’s healing. Hopefully it’s healing pretty well to be honest, I just have to take it a day at a time and can’t rush it but we’ll get there eventually. I’d like to aim to be back for our next meeting but who knows.”
Hunt added; “John has broken his thigh and is due to have it pinned and plated today, I must thank the boys for the way they all rallied round to help and a special mention for Nick who was superb with John today. Also a big thanks to the Mildenhall promotion for their help throughout and the track paramedics who did a fantastic job.”