Late win for Kent Kings
Late win for Kent Kings

The assembled masses at Kent Speedway are, let’s face it, hardly likely at this time of year when the British sporting public is supposedly besotted with tennis going to join in with such an obsession.

However, after the events of recent weeks, there’s equally no doubt that the Kent SLYDE Kings really do ‘love-15’: as in heat 15 that is! Because yet again the denouncement of proceedings at Central Park Stadium was an extraordinary last heat decider going the way of the hosts.

Behind from the very first heat onwards, not even drawing level at any point until the penultimate stanza and then taking the lead for the very first time only in the last heat of a night of high drama Derby Day derring-do – this match certainly served up the thrills. It was a classic Kent vs. Sussex clash and the Eastbourne Eagles were destined to be sent into a flap and homeward-bound sick as their proverbial parrot cousins!

It started with the visitors serving up a hard and fast lesson in gating – with Maidstone-based Georgie Wood showing his liking for the Central Park circuit by storming to a fastest winning time of the season in heat one: a scintillating 57.0 seconds dash to the flag – with an unprecedented wining margin over the home skipper Luke Bowen.

As with last week though, a first heat defeat served only to fire up the jet engines of ‘Bowen 747′ – who proceeded to reel off four straight wins (including twice taking revenge on Wood) after the unexpected reverse.

The lead for the visitors though was six points by heat four. Nathan Stoneman fell whilst chasing the Eagles’ other Man Of Kent, Mark Baseby and being hit by the following Kelsey Dugard. It looked a very nasty one and certainly took balls for Stoneman to dust himself down from this to take the full complement of his remaining rides. The discomfort though clearly took its toll and it was a difficult rest of the evening for the Welsh Wizard.

The SLYDE-sponsored Kings’ comeback was launched in earnest in heat eight with young Anders Rowe joining the party, beating the much heralded Jason Edwards; and Alex Spooner – who’d won heat two – taking an important third place.

Picking up points like that was something an out of sorts Taylor Hampshire was struggling to emulate and injury returnee Jacob Clouting was clearly struggling with the pace – having to make his comeback from a broken foot against such top class opposition.

Cue the big two, Bowen and last week’s maximum man Jack Thomas taking consecutive heat wins in heats 12 & 13 to bring the deficit down to just two points with two heats to go.

As in several matches already this season at Central Park this piled the pressure on Messrs Hampshire & Spooner in heat 14. And again they delivered. Hampshire this time bucked the trend of his earlier rides – storming past Edwards and showing he is the king for the penultimate heat with another crucial win at this juncture of a match. Spooner followed suit with third place ahead of Nick Laurence and for the first time all match the teams were tied together. 42-42 – with the nominated riders left to decide the destiny of the National Trophy [NT] points.

Bowen and Thomas were the inevitable picks. With Eastbourne team boss Connor Dugard opting for Wood of course and perhaps a tad surprisingly, preferring the experience of Baseby over the youth of GB U-19 runner up Tom Brennan – who’d beaten Thomas back in heat three.

Bowen stormed to the front but with the Eagles pairing keeping Thomas at the back it seemed like they’d be a sharing of the spoils. Not so, as on the fourth bend of lap two Thomas moved underneath the Eagles’ skipper Baseby and powered past him down the home straight. For the three times Cup winners – the 4-2 advantage to the hosts was a double knock-out blow: with it being game set and match as the Kings’ netted the NT points and meaning the mathematical chances for the Sussex seasiders in this years’s NT were now over. No wonder the home crowd made such a racket in celebration!

The rivalry between the two sides carries on though with the return fixture at the Arlington Raceway home of the Eagles on Saturday (16/6).

No home match at Central Park on next Monday but the Southern Development League [SDL] competing, Kent ‘Crayford’ Kestrels are in action at the weekend – utilising their Iwade training track home for a double header of fixtures against reigning SDL champion’s Reading Racers and then an inter league match against Midland Development League champs, Milton Keynes Knights. That action gets underway at 1pm on Sunday 17th. June at the Iwade Speedway training track which is at Raspberry Hill Lane (off Old Ferry Rd), Iwade, Sittingbourne, ME9 8SN

Kent SLYDE Kings 46

L. Bowen 2 3 3 3 3 14
A. Rowe 0 1 3 1 5
J. Thomas 2 3 3 3 1 12
T. Hampshire 1* 0 0 3 4+1
N. Stoneman FX 2 2 0 4
J. Clouting 0 FX F 0
A. Spooner 3 1 1 1 1 7

Eastbourne Eagles 44

G. Wood 3 2 3 2 2 12
J. Edwards 1 1* 2 1 2 7+1
T. Brennan 3 3 2 2 10
Rider replacement – Charley Powell
M. Baseby 3 2 2 1* 0 8+1
N. Laurence 1* 0 R 1* 0 0 2+2
K. Dugard 2 2* 1 F T 0 5+1

1. Wood, Bowen, Edwards, Rowe, 57.0 (2-4)
2. Spooner, Dugard, Laurence, Clouting, 61.3 (5-7)
3. Brennan, Thomas, Hampshire, Laurence 59.4 (8-10)
4. (re-run) Baseby, Dugard, Spooner, Stoneman (f.exc), 61.7 (9-15)
5.(re-run) Thomas, Wood, Edwards, Hampshire, 59.7 (12-18)
6. Bowen, Baseby, Rowe, Laurence (ret), 58.8 (16-20)
7. (awarded) Brennan, Stoneman, Dugard, Clouting (f.exc) no time (18-24)
8. Rowe, Edwards, Spooner, Dugard (f), 60.0 (22-26)
9. Thomas, Baseby, Laurence, Hampshire, 59.3 (25-29)
10 (re-run) Bowen, Brennan, Rowe, Laurence,. Dugard (exc.2mins), 58.3 (29-31)
11. Wood, Stoneman, Edwards, Clouting, 60.5 (31-35)
12. Thomas, Brennan, Spooner, Dugard, 60.2 (35-37)
13. Bowen, Wood, Baseby, Stoneman, 59.3 (38-40)
14. Hampshire, Edwards, Spooner, Laurence, 61.1 (42-42)
15. Bowen, Wood, Thomas, Baseby, 60.3 (46-44)