Solid home win for Kent Kings
Solid home win for Kent Kings

Another solid home showing by the Kent SLYDE Kings assured all the Travel Plus National League [TPNL] points went their way, as a useful Mildenhall Fen Tigers side were dispatched by the perquisite eight points margin, 49-41.

The win in front of another very good-sized crowd at Central Park Stadium on Monday (10/7) really was the epitome of an all-round solid team showing with only one rider (the awesome Ben Morley in the number one race jacket which fits him so well on this circuit, even these days as a ‘Guest’, going through the card to gain a second maximum in a row) attaining double figures; but the scoring spread well between the rest of the team.

This included two heat wins apiece by teenagers Jack Thomas and Anders Rowe – the latter getting within an ace of a first ever maximum; and one each from Nathan Stoneman (who’s two falls saw his points total artificially reduced) and stand-in skipper Ben Hopwood. With a bustling Bradley Andrews and a determined George Hunter contributing also, team boss Chris Hunt will be heartened by a showing which gained vital points against a side who will be seen as serious rivals for the play offs when in the meltdown mix for the all-important top four places in the TPNL table come late September.

Mildenhall sprang a surprise giving a TPNL debut to a rider no-one had on their radar, Western Australian-born Matt Marson. The youngster has recently swapped Perth for Staines and came out in impressive style achieving a second place behind the flying Rowe in his opening ride. It got more difficult for the UK-passport holding Aussie after that and indeed with Canterbury-based Kent Kestrels junior Andrew Palmer (who impressed in the recent Futurama championship at Central Park) filling the no. six race jacket it was in the reserve berths where perhaps the major difference was felt.

Rowe followed that heat two win with a superb effort to anchor a crucial 5-1 in heat five behind Stoneman and then kept a determined former Kings’ man Danno Verge at bay to win heat eight and these were (alongside the imperious Morley’s efforts) the key contributions.
That heat eight had produced the biggest drama of the meeting – Verge passed fast gating Andrews and took off in pursuit of Rowe only for the tall Kiwi to inavertedly clip Verge’s wheel sending both heavily into the air barrier – Andrews indeed right underneath it. The rookie Aussie Marson showed he has been well trained in the technicalities of the sport by laying down his machine extremely sharpish to avoid contact with the stricken pair in front of him. Thankfully no damage done to the two brave youngsters and the excellent fare on offer was able to proceed this week without delay or injuries blighting the entertainment.

For the visitors, Dan Halsey (who tends to blow hot and cold on his trips to Central Park), the excellent Connor Mountain (a youngster surely destined to reach the summit of this sport) and the hugely promising 16 year old Jordan Jenkins all contributed by some barnstorming riding forcing the best out of the likes of Thomas, Stoneman and Hopwood as the homesters sought to hold onto that early lead forged in the opening stanza of the match.

A second Stoneman fall in the first staging of heat 13 gave the visitors a glimmer of hope but that was extinguished by the lightning fast Morley in the rerun to ensure Kent lead by eight with two heats left. Bearing in mind Mildenhall had pulled around such a deficit to draw their cup tie by 5-1s in heats 14 & 15 against Stoke just the previous afternoon there was no room for complacency and when Thomas had machine problems forcing him to pack up in heat 14 that ominous prospect should have been an issue but for a determined effort by Hunter to ensure the win. Morley & Thomas then combined for the final heat 4-2 to take that winning margin back up to eight points.

Next week (Monday 17/7) it’s National Trophy ‘Eastern’ Group action with local rivals Eastbourne Eagles the visitors – usual 6.30pm start time.

Kent SLYDE Kings 49

Ben Morley 3 3 3 3 3 15
Bradley Andrews 1 1 X 0 2
Ben Hopwood 0 1* 1 3 5+1
Jack Thomas 3 2 3 R 1 9
Nathan Stoneman 3 0 2 X 5
George Hunter 0 1 1* 2 4+1
Anders Rowe 3 2* 3 1 9+1

Mildenhall Fen Tigers 41

Connor Mountain 2 3 3 2 2 12
Danno Verge 0 0 2 0 2
Jon Armstrong 1* 2* 2 2 7+2
Jordan Jenkins 2 3 1* 3 0 9+1
Dan Halsey 1 2 2 1* 6+1
Andrew Palmer 1* 0 0 1+1
Matt Marson 2 0 1* 0 1 4+1

1. Morley, Mountain, Andrews, Verge, 58.4 (4-2)
2. Rowe, Marson, Palmer, Hunter (f.rem), 60.4 (7-5)
3. Thomas, Jenkins, Armstrong, Hopwood, 59.8 (10-8)
4. Stoneman, Rowe, Halsey, Marson, 60.0 (15-9)
5. (re-run) Mountain, Thomas, Hopwood, Verge, 60.9 (18-12)
6. Morley, Halsey, Andrews, Palmer, 59.9 (22-14)
7. Jenkins, Armstrong, Hunter, Stoneman (f.rem), 61.1 (23-19)
8. (re-run) Rowe, Verge, Marson, Andrews (f.exc), 62.8 (26-22)
9. Thomas, Halsey, Hopwood, Palmer, 60.6 (30-24)
10. Morley, Armstrong, Jenkins, Andrews, 59.9 (33-27)
11.Mountain, Stoneman, Hunter, Verge, 62.6 (36-30)
12. Hopwood, Armstrong, Rowe, Marson, 61.6 (40-32)
13. (re-run) Morley, Mountain, Halsey, Stoneman (f.exc), 60.1 (43-35)
14. Jenkins, Hunter, Marson, Thomas (ret), 61.1 (45-39)
15. Morley, Mountain, Thomas, Jenkins, 60.6 (49-41)

Picture supplied by Elizabeth Leslie.