Kent Kings 46-43 Plymouth Devils
Kent Kings 46-43 Plymouth Devils

Move over Lazarus – your role as the ‘coming back from the dead’ specialist has now been taken by the Kent SLYDE Kings after one of the most extraordinary of nights at Central Park Stadium.

Seven points down to Plymouth Devils with just three heats remaining, there seemed no hope either for the hosts’ long unbeaten run on their home circuit or indeed for National Trophy [NT] Southern Group qualification. Yet somehow a late surge saw that deficit turned around in a breathtaking denouncement – the SLYDE Kings taking a lead they’d not held at any point earlier, only at the close of heat 15.

The Devil was in the detail up to that point with the unexpectedly lively visitors exceeding even probably their own expectations in providing five successive heat winners in a middle part of the match between heats eight and 12 when they took an almost complete grip on the proceedings. Stand out among these wins was young Henry Atkins holding off the previously unbeaten all season at Central Park, home captain Luke Bowen in a harum-scarum heat 10. Atkins had an excellent night, as did the rather more unlikely hero, Ryan Terry-Daley whose paid 11 was a best ever haul in an away match for the much-improved Kiwi.

The early exchanges had been rather more equally poised. Bowen had started with two heat wins as had Jack Thomas; and though the third heat leader in the Kings’ ranks Nathan Stoneman had overcooked his efforts to get back on terms with the visitors’ ‘guest’ rider Jason Edwards in his first outing and fallen on the last bend, he bounced back with a heat win too and at the halfway point of the match the scores were locked at 21-21.

Heat 8 is often pivotal – on this occasion it was shocking. The visitors’ Macauley Leek (who’d been a surprise winner of heat 2) this time found himself playing catch up and, already going too fast into the third bend, it seemed his throttle jammed open as he smashed through the fence at a speed and resultant force rarely if ever witnessed before.

Ironic that in a week when Kentish Speedway commentates the 50th. anniversary of league racing coming to the county – one shudders to think what the result would ever have been of a high-speed collision like that into that solid wooden fence at the old Kingsmead Stadium in Canterbury (which opened its doors on May 18th. 1968); luckily, in more enlightened times half a century on there are air barriers and this one did its job with Leak able to rise winded and shaken but unharmed.

Leek’s misfortune only seemed to rejuvenate his team mates though and Plymouth went on the purple patch which by the close of heat 12 saw them a surely decisive seven points to the good.

Somehow though, it all unravelled at the end for the Devils. Bowen got the better of Adam Roynon, with Thomas holding off a tiring Atkins in heat 13 for a long-awaited home side heat advantage, which frankly seemed to have come too late to make a difference. Not so though, with Taylor Hampshire and racing partner Alex Spooner (returning a career first double-figures score) joining the party by bringing the margin down to just one with a hugely welcome first home maximum of the match.

Heat 15 was dramatic – Bowen and Thomas got the trap on Roynon who over-cooked it in his efforts to get back on terms. It was clear the referee’s decision to exclude the Plymouth number one was correct, as they’d been no illegal move by the Kent youngster: Roynon simply misjudging the space available around the outside.

But for some reason, rather belatedly in fact, the experienced rider behaved in a very un-captain like fashion gesticulating in over dramatic fashion up to the ref’s box before being led away. Roynon’s enforced departure left the plucky Terry-Daley with far too much to do in the rerun to prevent the most unlikely of Houdini-style escapes by the homesters – with Thomas and Bowen sending the Central Park Stadium crowd into raptures wrapping things up and taking the match lead at the point of which it matters by far the most.

The 46-43 home win matched exactly the score down in Devon last month seeing the two protagonists locked together overall and much now for Chris Hunt’s charges depends on how they fare when currently unbeaten in the NT group and holders of the competition, Mildenhall visit next Monday.

For now though the 100% home record stretching back into last season remains intact and is up to 16 matches – and that’s a very Sweet Sixteen indeed!

Kent SLYDE Kings 46

L Bowen 3 3 2 3 2′ 13+1
A Rowe 0 1 2 0 3
N Stoneman 0 3 2 X 5
T Hampshire 1 1 0 3 5
J Thomas 3 3 2 1 3 12
J Laker 0 0 0 0
A Spooner 2 1 1′ 2 2′ 8+2

Plymouth 43

A Roynon 2 R 3 3 2 X 10
R Terry-Daley 1′ 2 2 3 1 1 10+1
H Atkins 2′ 2 3 3 0 10+1
J Edwards 3 1′ 1 1 6+1
Rider replacement – James Cockle
R Andrews 1 2 R 1 R F 4
M Leek 3 0 X 3

Heat Results

1 Bowen, Roynon, Terry-Daley, Rowe 58.1 (3-3)
2 Andrews, Spooner, Leek, Laker 61.8 (5-7)
3 Edwards, Atkins, Hampshire, Stoneman (fell rem.) 60.1 (6-12)
4 Thomas, Andrews, Spooner, Leek 59.6 (10-14)
5 Stoneman, Terry-Daley, Hampshire, Roynon (exc. 2M; retired) 62.0 (14-16)
6 Bowen, Terry-Daley, Rowe, Andrews (retired) 61.6 (18-18)
7 Thomas, Atkins, Edwards, Laker 59.9 (21-21)
8 (rerun) Terry-Daley, Rowe, Spooner, Leek (fell exc.) 62.7 (24-24)
9 Roynon, Stoneman, Andrews, Hampshire 60.0 (26-28)
10 Atkins, Bowen, Edwards, Rowe 59.6 (28-32)
11 Roynon, Thomas, Terry-Daley, Laker 59.6 (30-36)
12 (rerun) Atkins, Spooner, Andrews (retired), Stoneman (fell exc.) 62.3 (32-39)
13 Bowen, Roynon, Thomas, Atkins 58.1 (36-41)
14 (rerun) Hampshire, Spooner, Edwards, Andrews (Fell) 61.8 (41-42)
15 (rerun) Thomas, Bowen, Terry-Daley, Roynon (fell exc.) 60.8 (46-43)