Kent Kings set for Cup clash
Kent Kings set for Cup clash
Attention turns on Monday from the League to the National Knock Out Cup [NKOC] for the Kent SLYDE Kings who host Plymouth Devils in a second leg Quarter Final fixture at Central Park Stadium.

Defending a hard-gained four points lead from the away leg down in Devon puts the Kings in the box seat to some extent but consider ring that in three matches between the two sides so far this campaign no more than four points has separated the teams it really is shaping up to be a classic confrontation.

Kent need to make two changes in the aftermath of their latest win (a seventh in a row in all competitions) – youngster William O’Keefe who was riding in only his sixth match as a Kings’ rider dislocated his shoulder in a heat two crash last Monday and as this is a reoccurrence of a previous injury will need some time on the sidelines to recover strength in that arm.  Coming in to replace O’Keefe will be locally-based rider Jamie Couzins.

Jamie hails from just outside Canterbury and rode a whole season for Kent in 2015.  After a spell with Lakeside last term, Couzins hadn’t started this season in the Travel Plus Tours National League [TPTNL] but burst back into action with a paid maximum for Kent’s junior side the Kestrels away at the Isle of Wight last month and now steps back into the senior fray.

Also missing will be the other crash victim from the match against Eastbourne last Monday, Nathan Stoneman. Though taken away by ambulance after that high speed crash, the young Welsh-born rider was quickly able to be discharged but because he had been knocked out by the impact has to serve a 9 days riding suspension because he had a concussive injury.  It’s frustrating for Stoneman and all at the club as Nathan has been in superb form including a maiden maximum of the season in the first leg away at Plymouth.

Of Monday’s crash Stoneman has commented,

“There’s been quite a lot spoken about the incident where Eastbourne’s Tom Brennan crashed into me on Monday.  What I can say is it clearly was a racing incident only and that the track caught him out at that moment. It’s a split second for you to hit a rut then run out of room which caused Tom to clip me. It’s unfortunate on my behalf, but it’s racing folks!”

Chris Hunt will need to use the Rider Replacement facility to cover for Stoneman both on Monday and then away at Birmingham two days later – frustratingly that vital TPTNL trip to the Second City is actually on day 9 of Nathan’s riding bar.

The visitors on Monday Plymouth know a lot about injuries too, having lost their number one and skipper Adam Roynon to injury and he’s joined on the missing list by the two former Kings of last year in their squad, Ben Hopwood (who broke an ankle ctashing in heat 13 of the first leg against his old side) and Bradley Andrews.  Also out with injury is another rider who’s appeared for the Kings, Macauley Leek.

Plymouth team boss Matty Bates has used the start of August to re-declare his side to make changes to cover for these long term absenses.  His old Eastbourne team mate Kelsey Dugard will come in at reserve and the Devon club intend to use Rider Replacement in respect of their other new signing Tim Webster – the rules are such that this will only be possible if the experienced Webster is able to make his 2018 racing debut for the Devils in their home match this Friday,

The other change was made a coupe of weeks back with Ellis Perks, the Devils’ number one now – Perks who rides Central Park well (scoring 16 points on his last visit) is a member of the GB Under 21 World Cup squad and for sure one of the top stars at this level. It will certainly represent a challenge to his counterpart in the Kings’ side, Steve Boxall – who’ll be fired up to do well against the club he rode for in both of the last two seasons.

The action gets underway at Central Park Stadium on Monday 6th. August – 6,30pm start time.

Picture supplied by Elizabeth Leslie.