Fifth straight win for Kent Kings
Fifth straight win for Kent Kings

For an extraordinary fourth time this season in four clashes so far between these two sides, the result saw no more than four points separating Kent and their hosts on Friday at Plymouth.

The devil was in the detail though that this time it was the visiting side finishing with that crucial advantage – though sadly the match had to be cut short with three heats not to be contested after an unfortunate heat 13 crash led to the ambulance having to take stricken former Kings’ man Ben Hopwood to hospital with a suspected broken ankle.

Undoubted star of a third away win in a row for the in-form SLYDE Kings was Nathan Stoneman whose paid 12 was a first maximum of the campaign. The Welsh wizard got the well-oiled Kent machine into full gear with a storming pass of the homesters’ Richard Andrews in heat three for a first away rider win of the match. Jack Thomas repeated the exploit in the next race and after four heats Kent trailed by just two points.

An uncharacteristic fall by Kent skipper Luke Bowen in heat five put all the responsibility of keeping the margin down to in-form Taylor Hampshire – the teenager rode gamely but was overhauled by Henry Atkins ands the gap was now four points. Four became six  courtesy of an Ellis Perks and Macauley Leek 4-2 in heat six and there was concern that the SLYDE Kings’ recent unbeaten run could be under threat.

The tables were ultimately to be turned in big style in two dramatic races in heats 10 & 11.  GB Under 21 World Cup star Perks was unbeaten at this point but he crashed out on the first bend and the referee Ms. Vardy’s decision was to disqualify the Devils’ number one – much to his obvious displeasure.  Anders Rowe and Stoneman delivered a maximum in the rerun to bring the Kings level for the first time in the match at 30-30.

And in heat 11 suddenly it was the visitors who held a four-point lead, as a second successive 5-1 was served up by Bowen & Hampshire. Another win in heat 12 by Stoneman to complete his paid maximum from his programmed rides followed – but there were to be no more completed races.  In a heat 13 proven to be terribly unlucky for the hosts, Perks and Hopwood had a hugely unfortunate coming together leaving the Mancunian in considerable difficulty.

By the time the ambulance staff had safely delivered the stricken Hopwood into their vehicle the curfew had been reached and the 34-38 score in favour of the SLYDE Kings stood. A four-point advantage from the away leg is precious cargo indeed for Chris Hunt’s charges to take back to Central Park Stadium for the second leg on August 6th. – whether the ‘missing’ three heats and the points which could have extended (or reduced) that lead is something only for conjecture.

The club send their best wishes to Ben Hopwood for a speedy recovery.

Plymouth Devils                                34

  1. Ellis Perks 3, 3, FX                  6
  2. Bradley Andrews – R/R
  3. Henry Atkins 2, 3, 1′, 2               8+1
  4. Richard Andrews FX, 1, 0, 2  3
  5. Ben Hopwood 1′, 2, 1, inj. 4+1
  6. Macauley Leek 2′, 1, FX, 1′  4+2
  7. Ryan Terry-Daley F, 3, 2, 3, 1, FX 9


Kent SLYDE Kings                               38

  1. Luke Bowen 2, FX, 3  5
  2. Taylor Hampshire 1′, 2, 2, 2′ 7+2
  3. Nathan Stoneman 3, 3, 2′, 3 11+1 [PM]
  4. Anders Rowe 1, 1, 3  5
  5. Jack Thomas 3, 2, 3  8
  6. William O’Keefe 1, 0, M  1
  7. Alex Spooner FX, 0, 1′, 0  1+1


Heat Results

1 Perks, Bowen, Hampshire, Terry-Daley (fell) 50.75 [3-3]

2 (rerun) Terry-Daley, Leek, O’Keefe, Spooner (fell exc.) 52.75  [8-4]

3 (rerun) Stoneman, Atkins, Rowe, Andrews (fell exc.) 53.07  [10-8]

4 Thomas, Terry-Daley, Hopwood, Spooner  52.84  [13-11]

5 (rerun) Atkins, Hampshire, Andrews, Bowen (fell exc.)  53.25  [17-13]

6 Perks, Thomas, Leek, O’Keefe  51.47  [21-15]

7 (rerun) Stoneman, Hopwood, Rowe, Leek (fell exc)  53.00  [23-19]

8 Terry-Daley, Hampshire, Spooner, Andrews 53.32  [26-22]

9 Thomas, Andrews, Atkins, Spooner  53.75  [29-25]

10 (rerun) Rowe, Stoneman, Terry-Daley, Perks (fell exc)  52.81  [30-30]

11 (awarded) Bowen, Hampshire, Hopwood, Terry-Daley (fell exc.)  no time  [31-35]

12 Stoneman, Atkins, Leek, O’Keefe (exc. 2M). (3-3)…34-38…52.37

13 [not rerun]  line Up: Perks (fell), Hopwood (fell inj.), Bowen, Thomas

Meeting abandoned – first leg result stands