Disappointment for Kent Kings
Disappointment for Kent Kings

Disappointment for the Kent SLYDE Kings in the East Midlands on Sunday (3/6) when despite a promising start to proceedings and recording seven race wins (almost half of the 15 heats of the Travel Plus Tours National League [TPTNL] match) they went down to a 14 point defeat to league newcomers Coventry Bees.

The sting was indeed in the ‘tail’ for the hosts (who ride at Leicester’s Beaumont Park home, a rather dusty home in very warm conditions) with the numbers 2, 6 & 7 berths returning the Bees a paid 29 points to a meagre three points in total from those same riding positions for the visitors. In truth that stark stat tells really the whole tale of the match, in which again the in-form Nathan Stoneman top-scored on the road for the SLYDE-sponsored Kings and got good back up from his ever reliable skipper Luke Bowen and both Anders Rowe (with two heat wins) and Jack Thomas did their bit to try and keep a strong home side at bay.

Not for the first time this year the lion’s share of points for a set of opponents came from a rather unlikely source – for Mildenhall and Ryan Kinsey a couple of weeks back at Central Park, read Jamie Halder at Beaumont Park on Sunday. The Coventry-born teenager has never before recorded a score even approaching paid 14 but (given extra rides due to Luke Ruddick’s enforced withdrawal) the young reserve delivered in a way which can’t truthfully have been anticipated.

A 14 points reverse didn’t seem a likely outcome when at the third gone stage the scores were level. Bowen had opened up with a win over the Bees’ always dangerous number one Connor Mountain and though heat two went the way of a maximum to the hosts, the Kings bounced back with a 5-1 of their own in the very next race. Rowe lightning quick out of the gate and looking smooth and fast and the thrill-merchant Stoneman joining him at the front once he’d got under Ruddick on the third bend of lap three. The scores would have stayed tied in heat four had Thomas not been passed by the veteran Jon Armstrong on the final lap; but Bowen’s second win from two outings restored parity.

Heat six though was to see Mountain and the impressive Danny Phillips securing another 5-1 for the hosts and it was a lead they were never to surrender. Armstrong ended Bowen’s winning run five heats later to push the margin into double figures and though Stoneman won heat 12 it meant the always likely to be vital heat 13 was this time absolutely crucial for Chris Hunt’s charges.

Perhaps prophetically the race was at first delayed as a safety fence barrier panel was losing air. And the SLYDE Kings’ large travelling contingent of fans were left equally deflated as Mountain & Armstrong combined to get a 4-2 and clinch victory. Rowe hit back with his second race win in heat 14 but Mountain had the beating of Stoneman in the nominated riders’ race and Bowen was a faller, pushing the losing margin to 14.

The note of optimism coming from the meeting was that when the Kings travel back to Leicester in three weeks’ time (June 24th.) it’s for the National League Fours and a likely quarter of Stoneman, Bowen, Rowe & Thomas would be one opponents would have to respect on today’s showing. Meanwhile the whole team need to bounce back quickly as they take on Stoke Potters in what’s now a first leg of the First Round Knock-out Cup tie at Central Park Stadium on Monday (4/6)

Coventry Bees 52
Connor Mountain 2 3 3 3 3 14
Danny Phillips 1′ 2′ 3 1 7+2
Luke Ruddick 1 (withdrew) 1
Luke Harris 0 0 2 2 4
Jon Armstrong 3 2 3 1 1 10
Ryan MacDonald 2′ 0 1′ 1′ 4+3
Jamie Halder 3 1 2 2′ 1′ 1 2 12+2

Kent SLYDE Kings 38
Luke Bowen 3 3 2 2 F 10
Taylor Hampshire 0 1 1 0 2
Nathan Stoneman 2′ 3 2 3 2 12+1
Anders Rowe 3 1 0 3 7
Jack Thomas 2 1 3 0 6
Nick Laurence 0 0 0 0
Alex Spooner 1 0 0 F 0 1

Heat Results
1 Bowen, Mountain, Phillips, Hampshire 63.44 (3-3)
2 Halder, MacDonald, Spooner, Laurence 65.66 (8-4)
3 Rowe, Stoneman, Ruddick, Harris 65.0 (9-9)
4 Armstrong, Thomas, Halder, Spooner 65.19 (13-11)
5 Bowen, Halder, Hampshire, Harris (fell rem.) 63.38 (15-15)
6 Mountain, Phillips, Thomas, Laurence 63.12 (20-16)
7 (rerun) Stoneman, Armstrong, Rowe, MacDonald 63.13 (22-20)
8 Phillips, Halder, Hampshire, Spooner 65.07 (27-21)
9 (rerun)Thomas, Harris, Halder, Laurence 64.56 (30-24)
10 Mountain, Stoneman, Phillips, Rowe 63.50 (34-26)
11 Armstrong, Bowen, Halder, Hampshire 65.12 (38-28)
12 (rerun) Stoneman, Halder, MacDonald (tapes 15m), Spooner (fell) 64.15 (41-31)
13 Mountain, Bowen, Armstrong, Thomas 64.44 (45-33)
14 Rowe, Harris, MacDonald, Spooner 67.38 (48-36)
15 Mountain, Stoneman, Armstrong, Bowen (fell) 63.75 (52-38)