Narrow defeat for Kent Kings
Narrow defeat for Kent Kings

A second visit of the season way out (south-) west to take on the Plymouth Devils, this time in Travel Plus National League [TPTNL] action for the Kent SLYDE Kings and a second 43 points tally reached – but in Speedway the devil is in the detail and though a bonus point was again secured by the visitors, there was frustration that for a second time a last heat decider went the way of the hosts who stole away the win.

And when an away team records ten of the 15 heat wins, well really that should be enough to take the victory – so there was frustration tinged with satisfaction with a much-improved performance on the road.

The skipper Luke Bowen led the scoring – it took a super-fast showing by Plymouth’s ‘Guest’ Danny Ayres in the opening heat [a NL track record for the St. Boniface Arena] to keep Bowen at bay and then the captain reeled off four heat wins including revenge over former team mate Ayres in heats 13 & 15.  By the time of that final heat the best Kent could hope for was sadly a draw on the night – the set of circumstances which led to that crucial four points deficit was summed up in his after-match reflections by co-promoter Len Silver,
“Once again we went behind after some early match set-backs, including an unfortunate fall by Nathan [Stoneman] when he was in the lead in heat four. Nathan had performed an amazingly brave pass on the home pair on the first lap, only to hit a small bump which unsettled him on what was a very slick track. That gift 5-1, added to the heat two 5-1 and a home 4-2 with Luke’s only lost point coming in heat one, and suddenly we were 10 points adrift.
“But we fought back and clawed our way into contention, helped by a great performance from Anders [Rowe] who had the audacity to keep Danny Ayres behind him in an amazing heat 10, showing speed and skill to match the best.  But the homesters had the match winning pair of reserves who scored 17 points between them, a total few visiting teams will be able to match.”
There was certainly much to be pleased about and especially Rowe’s much improved showing – unbeaten by an opponent after a first race duck egg.  Jack Thomas was again the epitome of solidity, with three heat wins. The teenager needed to repeat with his captain, the 5-1 final heat heroics of their last match and they so nearly repeated the trick – only for Ayres to force Thomas out of second in that climatic heat 15, allowing the other ex-Kings’ man in the Devils’ line up Ben Hopwood through into a match-winning position.
The respective contributions from the reserve berths were of course decisive – the hosts saw an exceptional effort from their Kiwi Ryan Terry-Daley, his paid 13 being especially unlucky for the visitors.  Another pointless showing by Jacob Clouting pushed the Kent management into decisive action as Silver explained,
“Team Manager Chris Hunt and I spoke with Jacob’s father, Savalas and we all three reached the same conclusion: that Jacob is not yet ready for the hurly burly of TPTNL racing.  I’m personally unhappy that my judgement has been wrong on this.  He has looked good in practice but has not shown the spirit and tenacity that I expected. It may come in time and he will then get another chance.”
Kent move on to Mildenhall on Sunday (1/7) and continue their busy start to red hot July with a home fixture in the TPTNL against the Stoke Potters at Central Park Stadium on Monday 2nd. – 6.30pm start time.
Plymouth Devils 47
1. Danny Ayres [G]  3  3  2  2  1′ 11+1
2. Richard Andrews   1  1′  1  1  F 4+1
3. Henry Atkins   2  2  2  2 8
4. Bradley Andrews – R/R
5. Ben Hopwood   2′  R  2  1′  2 7+2
6. Macauley Leek   2′  1  0  1′  1′ 5+3
7. Ryan Terry-Daley   3  3  F  3  1′  2 12+1
Kent SLYDE Kings  43
1. Luke Bowen   2  3  3  3  3 14
2. Taylor Hampshire   0  1  2  0 3
3. Jack Thomas   3  3  1  3  0 10
4. Anders Rowe   0  2′  3  3 8+1
5. Nathan Stoneman   F  2  3  0 5
6. Jacob Clouting   0  F   F 0
7. Alex Spooner   1  1  0  1  0 3
Heat Results
1) Ayres, Bowen, Andrews, Hampshire 50.06 {NL track record} (4-2)
2) Terry-Daley, Leek, Spooner, Clouting 52.59 (9-3)
3) Thomas, Atkins, Andrews, Rowe 52.16 (12-6)
4) Terry-Daley, Hopwood,  Spooner, Stoneman (fell)  53.25 (17-7)
5) Bowen, Atkins, Hampshire, Terry-Daley (fell) (9-11)
6) [awarded] Ayres, Stoneman, Andrews, Clouting (fell)  no time (23-13)
7) Thomas, Rowe, Leek, Hopwood (ret.) 52.80 (24-18)
8) Terry-Daley, Hampshire, Andrews, Spooner 53.82 (28-20)
9) Stoneman, Atkins, Spooner, Leek 51.58 (30-24)
10) Rowe, Ayers, Thomas, Andrews (fell) 50.85 (32-28)
11) Bowen, Hopwood, Leek, Hampshire 51.66 (35-31)
12) Thomas, Atkins, Terry-Daley, Clouting (fell) 53.62 (38-34)
13) Bowen, Ayres, Hopwood, Stoneman 52.06 (41-37)
14)  Rowe, Terry-Daley, Leek Spooner 52.28 (44-40)
15)  Bowen, Hopwood, Ayres, Thomas 51.90 (47-43)