Back to basics for Kent Kings
Back to basics for Kent Kings

One piece of silverware safely secured in the Central Park Stadium trophy room, it’s time now for the Kent TouchTec Kings to concentrate on their National League [NL] campaign.

And the first visiting team in the NL on Monday 10th. June could scarcely represent a more significant challenge for the newly crowned National Trophy [NT] champions as it’s a very strong-looking Leicester Lion Cubs side roaring into town.

So far Chris Hunt’s charges have a perfect record in this year’s NL – one away match successfully under their belt with a win (up at Stoke four weeks ago) – but now the NL campaign begins in earnest with the visit of the side from the East Midlands who are new to this division for 2019.

Most observers of Speedway’s third tier were split at the start of the campaign between Kent themselves and this new side from Leicester when asked to pick the teams most likely to take the honours in the NL.  Of course what it’s actually about at this juncture is securing a top four place and so able to proceed to the season-deciding play offs and it’s fairly difficult to imagine that a reprise of Monday’s battle won’t be on the cards within that system.

But the TouchTec Kings are unquestionably depleted going into this crucial coming together with the Lion Cubs and so it really is another major challenge for the already legendary spirit of this 2019 side.

Alex Spooner who has been out with a damaged shoulder plans to put his recovery to the test in practice over the weekend and all in the Kent camp will be keeping everything crossed that the teenager from Essex will be able to resume and bolster the all-important middle-order of the side on Monday.  Missing still will be fellow injury victim Dan Gilkes who as all could see during the NT victory celebrations last Monday, is still on crunches after his painful crash left him with a broken pelvis. Jacob Clouting continues at reserve.

Also nursing an injury now is yet another teenager, Jordan Jenkins who has a suspected fracture to his coccyx (lower back).

So they’ll be Rider Replacement used again (for Jenkins as opposed to Spooner) and they’ll be again an emphasis on skipper Rob Ledwith (imperious vs. the Isle of Wight on Monday) and the reliably high-scoring Drew Kemp and Anders Rowe plus the titanic teen (likely to be busy on the night) Nathan Ablitt.

For Ablitt it’s an important evening with Leicester in town as he’s pitched against two fellow 15 year olds who want to challenge him for the title of the best in class of 2019: the twins, Dan & Joe Thompson.  Their paths will have crossed many times during youth racing but this will be a first time in competitive team action – with young Nathan who sports a hair cut not vat all dissimilar to Herge’s iconic hero Tin Tin up against the threat of Thompson & Thompson!

If the Lion Cubs have that dual threat at reserve it’s likewise in the two main heat leader berths which are filled by their skipper Danyon Hume and GB U21 international Ellis Perks.  The Aussie-raised (though British born) Perks actually made his UK competitive debut at Central Park in the 2014 staging of the GB U19 Final, moving on to represent the land of his birth at international level.  Hume could well have followed suit already but for a number of injury setbacks.

Taking of injury Jamie Halder misses out after crashing in the Lion Cubs’ opening home meeting; before even then David Howard and Dave Dyer’s side had lost the experienced Kelsey Dugard to a press and practice crash – his replacement the Glaswegian Ryan MacDonald is absent on Monday and coming in will be Arran Butcher.  Completing the line up is a fellow Scot of MacDonald’s in Luke Ruddick. The one time Mildenhall & Coventry rider hails from Tweedside and has been bordering on a breakthrough at NL level for a while – an improved performance from some previous outings at Central Park could be the difference for the visitors.

 

The NL action, Kent vs. Leicester gets underway at 6.30pm on Monday 10th. June

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