Kent Kings beaten in thriller
Kent Kings beaten in thriller
An excellent all-round team effort by the Kent SLYDE Kings in their debut outing of the 2018 season saw them go down in a last heat decider to Plymouth Devils – securing an away bonus point in this National Trophy [NT] Southern Group opener.

It’s never easy venturing out so deep into the south-west on a school holidays’ Friday (for some reason this always seems to be the case when Kent are away in Devon!) and for the riders and the hardy group of dedicated Kent supporters, it was certainly the longest of hauls to get to the smallest of circuits in the competition. So, for all the riders bar debutant Jacob Clouting to deliver at least a paid win shows how well they coped in the most trying of circumstances – taking the strong septet representing the hosts to the very death.

The Devils took the early initiative with a 5-1 over Kent’s new reserve pairing of Alex Spooner (who had an especially problematical drive to the St. Boniface Arena) and first-timer Clouting and then extended that advantage to six with a 4-2 in the fourth heat. That race had given the Kings’ faithful the first real glimpse of the potential of their new no. 7 though, the 19-year-old bursting past the experienced James Cockle courtesy of a physical coming together that if being described would probably be called a “clouting”. Sadly after such a controlled manoeuvre the youngster overcooked it and clipped the fence denying him a debut race victory.

There were race wins coming the visitors’ way though – Nathan Stoneman in his first outing in heat three and then his skipper Luke Bowen in heat five starting up a remarkable run of five heat wins in a row for the visitors: Jack Thomas twice, Stoneman again and Anders Rowe all taking the chequered flag first as the SLYDE-sponsored Kings reached the two-thirds point of the match just two points off the pace.

The first of Thomas’s brace was significant as it was to be only reverse suffered by the Devils’ ever-impressive number one Adam Roynon – and it was the one time National League Riders Champion who ended Stoneman’s own unbeaten run in heat 10, steadying the ship for the hosts.

A Cockle win and a 4-2 in heat 11 put Plymouth into a six point lead and clearly the visitors needed an instant response – and that they did: with Stoneman back to winning ways and Spooner taking advantage of Henry Atkins’ fall and Macaulay Leek’s bike malfunctions to take a maximum 5-0 and reduce the gap to just one point.

Heat 13 was always going to be crucial and so it proved – with Thomas adjudged in the first staging to have brought down Cockle and so disqualified from the rerun, where Bowen was able only to split the Devils’ pairing.
The three point lead established at this antepenultimate stage was destined to remain due to two more 3-3s – with Taylor Hampshire coming to the party with a storming win over Kent old boy Bradley Andrews in heat 14 to set up a last heat decider but to no eventual avail.

Plymouth Devils 46
1. Adam Roynon 3 2 3 3 3 14
2. Ryan Terry-Daley 0 F 1 1
3. Henry Atkins 2 2 2 Fx 6
4. Bradley Andrews 1′ 1′ 1′ 2 5+3
5. James Cockle 3 2 3 1 0 9
6. Richard Andrews 3 R 2 1 1′ 7+1
7. Macaulay Leek 2′ 1 1′ EF 4+2

Kent SLYDE Kings 43
1. Luke Bowen 2 3 2 2 2 11
2. Anders Rowe 1′ 0 3 0 4+1
3. Nathan Stoneman 3 3 2 3 1′ 12+1
4. Taylor Hampshire 0 1 0 3 4
5. Jack Thomas 2 3 3 Fx 8
6. Alex Spooner 1 M 0, 0 2′ 3+1
7. Jacob Clouting 0 Fx 1 F 1

Heat Results

Heat 1 (rerun) Roynon, Bowen, Rowe, Terry-Daley (exc tapes 15 m) 54.06 [3-3]
Heat 2 R.Andrews, Leek, Spooner, Clouting 56.49 [8-4]
Heat 3 Stoneman, Atkins, B.Andrews, Hampshire 54.44 [11-7]
Heat 4 (rerun) Cockle, Thomas, Leek, Clouting (fell exc.) 56.25 [15-9]
Heat 5 Bowen, Atkins, B.Andrews, Rowe 54.28 [18-12]
Heat 6 (rerun twice) Thomas, Roynon, Clouting, Terry-Daley (fell), Spooner (exc. 2M) 54.29 [20-16]
Heat 7 Stoneman, Cockle, Hampshire, R.Andrews (ret) 55.19 [22-20]
Heat 8 Rowe, R.Andrews, Leek, Spooner 55.84 [25-23]
Heat 9 Thomas, Atkins, B.Andrews, Spooner 55.25 [28-26]
Heat 10 (rerun) Roynon, Stoneman, Terry-Daley, Hampshire 54.26 [32-28]
Heat 11 Cockle, Bowen, R.Andrews, Rowe 55.35 [36-30]
Heat 12 (rerun twice) Stoneman, Spooner, Leek (EF), Atkins (fell exc.) 54.28 [36-35]
Heat 13 (rerun) Roynon, Bowen, Cockle, Thomas (fell exc.) 53.43 [40-37]
Heat 14 Hampshire, B.Andrews, R.Andrews, Clouting (fell) 54.91 [43-40]
Heat 15 Roynon, Bowen, Stoneman, Cockle 53.91 [46-43]