Kent Kings 56-34 Cradley Heathens
Kent Kings 56-34 Cradley Heathens
The in-form Kent SLYDE Kings completed the first half of their 2017 Travel Plus National League [TPNL] season with their most impressive performance of the campaign putting Cradley Heathens to the sword in a best-ever victory over the 2013 and ’14 league champions.

The Black Country side came with the threatened promise of former Kent favourite and Central Park track specialist Danny Ayres and skipper Tom Perry who has the most impressive of records in team competition in this division, a league winning skipper for three years running. Both delivered perhaps as expected, but the reality was that EVERY race which included neither of their big two resulted in maximum heat advantages to a very solid indeed SLYDE Kings sextet.

Extraordinarily four of the Kent side scored eleven points including both reserves. Perhaps the most noteworthy of these ‘Legs Elevens’ was George Hunter with the 22 year old from Essex turning in by far the best performance since joining up with the Central Park-based side and indeed the most impressive scoring effort of his career.

Hunter’s gladiatorial exploits began with three 5-1s – winning heat two and then anchoring further maximum heat advantages in heats 7 & 8 which turned the match firmly in the hosts’ way. Hunter finished the meeting has he’d began it – winning heat 14 as he had heat 2, to finish with a paid 13 score. Reserve colleague Anders Rowe actually bettered that return with paid 14 and was rewarded with a first ever appearance in the nominated riders heat 15.

The victory would certainly have busted the 60 points mark but for stand in skipper Jack Thomas’ mechanical woes failing to complete more than a lap or so under power in both of his opening two rides. Thomas’ misfortunes and a very lively start by Perry in particular kept the scores close until that mid-meeting burst of four 5-1 between heats 7 and 12 by which time the margin of leading had risen by two points to a match-winning 20.

The win moves Chris Hunt’s charges up to sixth in the table with crucial matches in hand over the two sides between them and the coveted top four: Cradley themselves who looked close to a busted flush on this performance though soon to be significantly strengthened by the inclusion of one-time GB international Richard Hall and reigning champs, fellow West Midlanders Birmingham.

August is going to be crucial for the SLYDE-sponsored Kings, with home matches against two of the current top three (Lakeside & Eastbourne. Kent’s two most local rivals) plus an away trip to Birmingham.

Before that it’s crunch time in the National Trophy [NT] next week (Monday 7th. August) when a head to head with Mildenhall will go a long way to deciding who tops the qualifying group with a Final slot against Plymouth awaiting. The SLYDE Kings need to win by at least seven points to keep hopes of a second successive NT Final alive. The action on 7/8 will get underway at 6.30pm.

Kent SLYDE Kings                              56
Ben Morley [Guest]                             3          2          3          3                                              11
Rider replacement –  Nathan Stoneman                                                                   
Ben Hopwood                                     1          2          2          2          3          1                      11       
Bradley Andrews                                1*         1*         1*         2*                                             5+4
Jack Thomas                                      EF       EF       3          3          1                                  7
George Hunter                                    3          2*         2*         1          3                                  11+2
Anders Rowe                                      2*
      2          3          2*         2*         0                      11+3   
Cradley Heathens                               34
Danny Ayres                                       2          3          2          2          3                                  12
Luke Harris                                         0          0          F          0          0                                  0
Rider replacement –  Dan Greenwood
Joe Lawlor                                          0          1          1          R                                             2
Tom Perry                                           3          3          3          3          0          2*                     14+1
Conor Dwyer                                      0          1          0          1          1                                  3
Alex Spooner                                      1          1          0          1          0                                  3
1. Morley, Ayres, Hopwood, Harris 57.9 (4-2)
2. (re-run) Hunter, Rowe, Spooner, Dwyer 60.4 (9-3)
3. (re-run) Perry, Hopwood, Andrews, Lawlor 59.8   (12-6)
4. Perry, Rowe, Spooner, Thomas (EF) 59.7 (14-10)
5. Ayres, Hopwood, Andrews, Harris 58.6     (17-13)
6. Perry, Morley, Dwyer, Thomas (EF) 59.6 (19-17)
7. Thomas, Hunter, Lawlor, Spooner 61.4 (24-18)
8. Rowe, Hunter, Spooner, Harris (fell) 61.7 (29-19)
9. (re-run twice) Perry, Hopwood, Andrews, Dwyer 60.7 (32-22)
10. Morley, Rowe, Lawlor, Harris 60.7 (37-23)
11. Thomas, Ayres, Hunter, Harris 60.9 (41-25)
12. Hopwood, Rowe, Dwyer, Lawlor (ret) 64.0 (46-26)
13. Morley, Ayres, Thomas, Perry 60.2 (50-28)
14. Hunter, Andrews, Dwyer, Spooner 62.9 (55-29)
15. Ayres, Perry, Hopwood, Rowe 59.6 (56-34)
Pictures supplied by Elizabeth Leslie