Disappointment for Kent Kings
Disappointment for Kent Kings

It was disappointment for the Kent TouchTec Kings on Monday evening, as they went out of the National League Knock-Out Cup at the hands of the Belle Vue Colts. The visitors ran out 45-43 winners on the night 96-82 on aggregate. 

This was an evening where it seemed everything was against the Kings, almost from the moment reserve Nathan Ablitt was ruled out after a tumble at Swindon the day before – the diagnosis being controversially that he had mild concussion. Ablitt’s place in the team was taken by fellow 15 year old National League debutant Jake Mulford – there will be more on him later. 

The Kings battled manfully, and there were bright points – Drew Kemp and captain Rob Ledwith continued their fine run of form, with scores of 13 and 11+1 respectively; whilst the visitors were served well by Leon Flint who top scored with 13 and Jordan Palin who added 10. 

Already chasing a 12 point deficit from the first leg, the home side found themselves a further four points down after the first three races (46-62 on aggregate) – that third race saw a very bad crash for home rider Jordan Jenkins, which subdued him for the rest of the meeting. Going into bend three for the first time, Jenkins spun, sadly right into the path of Colts’ second string Ben Rathbone, who tried his best to avoid him but sadly there was nothing he could do and ran into the Kings rider, who bravely battled on in the rest of the meeting but looked decidedly second hand. 

The meeting lit up in the fourth race, captain Ledwith gated and led from tapes to flag but it was what was happening behind him that had the crowd on the edge of their seats. Jake Mulford, who had to build a bike this morning, before going to school gated ahead of former youth World Champion Kyle Bickley,  Bickley then got by the youngster coming out of the second bend on the opening lap, However that wasn’t the end of it, as young Mulford found the speed and drive to get past the GB U21 team-mate of Kent’s own Kemp, Bickley on the third lap and hold on to take a paid win in his second competitive race, on a track he’d never seen, over a rider with a list of honours longer than a school timetable!  Sadly, Jake was to experience the other side to Speedway in his next race when he suffered an engine failure.

However of his night’s work overall Mulford said “I’m really pleased with how the night went, it’s just a shame having bike problems after such an amazing second heat, but that’s Speedway for you.”

The two sides traded 5-1’s in the fifth and sixth races, as Kent tried their hardest to eat in to the deficit but everything they threw, the Colts countered. Heat eight was the turning point of the meeting, two points up and looking to press on, the Kings conceded a 5-0, after Alex Spooner fell and was excluded and Jake Mulford retired from the race. From there the Colts went about the task of completing the job. 

Heat 11 provided the fans with some late meeting drama, visitor Danny Phillips spun and fell on the first bend on lap two, to be clouted by Clouting, who despite laying his bike down couldn’t miss the stricken Colt. The re-run saw the Kent reserve get in trouble on turns three and four, and indulge in a brief Grasstrack interlude… this was frowned upon by referee Si Humphrey-Kennett and although he finished the race his point was chalked off. 

Rain began to fall at this point and the end of the meeting was rushed through sensibly by the referee.  The Colts sealed the tie in Heat 13 when Jordan Palin split the home duo of Kemp and Ledwith. Reflecting on the meeting afterwards, Kings manager Chris Hunt said “we will bounce back from this, we are disappointed but I am proud of the boys and the effort they put in over two legs”. 

Kent now sail over the Solent to take on old enemies the Isle of Wight Warriors in the National League on Thursday (27/6) with Swindon Sprockets the first time visitors to Central Park in an all star encounter including the return of Luke Bowen next Monday (1/7)

 

Kent TouchTec Kings 43

 

D Kemp  2 3 3 3 2  13

A Spooner  0 2’ FX 0 2+1

A Rowe  2 1 3 2 8

J Jenkins FX 0 1 2  3

R Ledwith 3 3 3 1 1’  11+1

J Clouting 2  1 X F 3

J Mulford 1’ 2’ R 0 3+2

 

Belle Vue 45

 

J Palin 3 3 2 2 0  10

D Phillips 1 2’ 3 FX 6+1

L Flint 3 2 2 3 3 13

B Rathbone 1 F 3  4

K Bickley 1 1 0 0  2

C Bailey 3 0 2 1’ 1 7+1

B Woodhull 0 0 2’ 1 3+1

 

Heat Details

 

1 (rerun) Palin, Kemp, Phillips, Spooner 57.1 (2-4)

2 Bailey, Clouting, Mulford, Woodhull 59.1 (5-7)

3 (rerun) Flint, Rowe, Rathbone, Jenkins (fell exc) 58.8 (7-11)

4 Ledwith, Mulford, Bickley, Woodhull 58.5 (12-12) 

5 Palin, Phillips, Rowe, Jenkins 59.7 (13-17)

6 Kemp, Spooner, Bickley, Bailey 59.1 (18-18)

7 Ledwith, Flint, Clouting, Rathbone (fell) 58.8 (22-20)

8 (awarded) Phillips, Woodhull, Spooner (fell exc) Mulford (ret) (no time) (22-25)

9 Rowe, Bailey, Jenkins, Bickley 59.3 (26-27)

10 Kemp, Flint, Bailey, Spooner 58.6 (29-30)

11 Ledwith, Palin, Clouting (exc. Leaving track) Phillips (fell exc) 60.1 (32-32)

12 Flint, Rowe, Bailey, Mulford 58.9 (34-36)

13 (rerun) Kemp, Palin, Ledwith, Bickley 60.6 (38-38)

14 Rathbone, Jenkins, Woodhull, Clouting (fell) 67.4 (40-42)

15 Flint, Kemp, Ledwith, Palin 61.0 (43-45)

 

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RACE DAY UPDATE from earlier – gives details of debutant, Jake Mulford

 

With the Kings’ Dan Gilkes ruled out of this evening’s National League Knock Out Cup First Round Second Leg match against the Belle Vue Colts after crashing in Sunday’s away match at Swindon, Kent’s management have moved quickly to secure the services to cover at reserve of Jake Mulford.

Like Gilkes, Jake is just 15 years of age but has packed in a wealth of experience since beginning riding aged 11 and has had regular rides on his home county track, King’s Lynn in Norfolk.

Jake  is the latest young rider to come out of Norwich, which has been a proverbial conveyor belt of Speedway talent in recent years and is well known on the Grasstrack scene in East Anglia and the Fens and indeed nationally – taking the British title at Intermediate Youth level in Speedway’s sister sport in 2017.  

On his senior Grasstrack debut young Mulford was the star of the show in the 250cc class in last month’s Jon Underwood Memorial Trophy event organised by the Fenland club.

This will be Jake’s competitive Speedway debut at senior level and he’s certainly coming in at the deep end taking on a strong Colts team who lead by 12 points going into this second leg and tracking at reserve themselves another Central Park first timer in young Aussie protege, Connor Bailey.

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