Stoke Potters 42-44 Kent Kings
Stoke Potters 42-44 Kent Kings

One league match raced; one win chalked up – has to be an entirely satisfactory start for the Kent TouchTec Kings’ Speedway National League [NL] campaign; and especially when that fixture was away from home. 

However, for the victorious riders and their fans returning from the long journey to the Potteries, there cannot help but be a tinge of regret that another long away day should really have resulted in a more emphatic victory (and therefore have an additional point bagged).  It’s a long season between now and the hoped-for Play Offs in October but it’ll be a month of Sundays before a more bizarre decision is made to affect a result than that seen up in Stoke this afternoon {Sunday 12th.)!

 

Battling on with the significant handicap of losing in-form teenager Dan Gilkes to a nasty heat two crash, the visitors were forging ahead by the midpoint of the match with a 5-1 in the always crucial heat 8 putting them seven points in the lead – a margin which if retained or bettered after 15 heats means a visiting team bag the full four match points.  That maximum came courtesy of Gilkes’ partner at reserve, the youngest rider in the team 15 year old Nathan Ablitt (who had a busy but supremely effective afternoon scoring paid 13 from seven rides) and skipper Rob Ledwith who had seemingly put his early meeting woes behind him after falls in both of his first two outings. Ledwith it was out again in the following race and because rider replacement was in place for the other injured Kings’ man, Alex Spooner this had to be a race where Kent team boss Chris Hunt could only put out one rider.  The only luck the Kent skipper seems to be having on his travels in this comeback season is of the bad kind and sure enough his engine seized, causing his machinery to grind to a halt on the final bend of the fourth lap. Walking away from his stricken machine, a voice from the crowd reminded Ledwith he could push home for a point which he proceeded to do. Only to be disqualified under the receiving outside assistance rule. Such a rule applies should a mechanic or track staff help a rider to push home – it was the first time anyone could ever recall a mere shout (and from a spectator not from anyone officially to do with the club or rider) being interpreted in such a way.  Suddenly a seven-point lead was down to just two.

 

The meeting had in fact started in difficult fashion for the much-fancied visitors.  Usually the epitome of reliability when guesting for his former side, Ben Morley had a hugely uncharacteristic fall in heat one.  Then came Gilkes’ afternoon-ending tumble when hitting a large pile of dirt while comfortably leading heat two – a badly swollen leg ruled him out of the rest of the meeting.  

 

As Chris Hunt points out this severely limited options for the rest of the match.

“It’s always the worst nightmare of a team manager when using Rider Replacement for a second string to then lose one of the reserves to injury meaning there is going to be a couple of times unable to put a rider out in a race.  I’m hoping Dan’s injury is only a dead leg though the swelling is bad – he will miss Monday’s match versus Plymouth. Young Nathan Ablitt was superb today – to have to ride seven times on such a difficult track and score paid 13 including two heat wins is a magnificent effort.  He was mounted back on the Godden machinery which had got damaged down at Plymouth on Good Friday and it made a big difference”.

 

It was Anders Rowe and Jordan Jenkins combining for two 5-1s in heats 3 & 7 which really set the tone for the Kings’ victory.  Hunt was full of praise for the teen duo,

“Anders is riding brilliantly this term – he is now established as such a reliable performer at this level.  And today was hugely important for Jordan, who’s paid 15 was an absolutely outstanding effort. Like Nathan, riding on improved machinery after getting the tuning assistance of former World Champion Michael Lee, Jordan was back to the top form he has shown for Mildenhall previously in this division and today will have done wonders for his confidence”.

 

After the heat 9 debacle , a heat 13 maximum again by the hosts -Tom Perry & former Kent man Connor Coles surprisingly keeping Morley at bay – meant it was sweaty palms time; with just two heats remaining the TouchTec Kings’ lead was back to a mere two points but cometh the hour, cometh the man and Jenkins cemented his status as today’s match winner with a win and second place in those final two heats to ensure the Kings left Staffordshire triumphant.

 

Stoke Potters 42

Tom Perry 3, 3, 3, 3, 3 15

Shelby Rutherford  1, 2′, FX, FX 3+1

Joe Lawlor R, 3, 2′, 2 7+1

Luke Priest 1, 0, 3, 2 6

Connor Coles 3, 1, 2, 2′, 1 9+1

Corban Pavitt FX, 0, 0, 0 0

Joe Alcock FX, 1, 1, 0 2

 

Kent TouchTec Kings 44

Ben Morley (G) F, 2, 3, 1 6

Rider Replacement – Alex Spooner

Anders Rowe 3, 3, 2, 3, 0 11

Jordan Jenkins 2, 2′, 2′, 1′, 3, 2  12+3

Rob Ledwith F, 1, 2′, X, 0 3+1

Dan Gilkes FX – withdrawn, injured

Nathan Ablitt 3, 2, 1′, 3, 1, 1, 1  12+1

 

Heat Results

1 Perry, Jenkins, Rutherford, Morley (fell)  63.9 [4-2]

2 (rerun twice/awarded) Ablitt, Pavitt (fell exc), Alcock (fell exc.), Gilkes (fell exc.) no time  [4-5]

3 Rowe, Jenkins, Priest, Lawlor (ret)  64.8 [5-10]

4 Coles, Ablitt, Alcock, Ledwith (fell)  65.3 [9-12]

5 Lawlor, Morley, Ablitt, Priest  64.4 [12-15]

6 Perry, Rutherford, Ledwith (fell rem.)  65.6 [17-16]

7 Rowe, Jenkins, Coles, Pavitt  65.1 [18-21] .

8 (awarded) Ablitt, Ledwith, Alcock, Rutherford (fell exc.)  no time [19-26]

9 Priest, Lawlor, Ledwith (exc. ROA)  66.9 [24-26]

10 (rerun) Perry, Rowe, Jenkins, Rutherford (fell exc.)  64.6 [27-29]

11 Morley, Coles, Ablitt, Pavitt  66.8 [29-33]

12 Rowe, Lawlor, Ablitt, Alcock  65.7 [31-37]

13 Perry, Coles, Morley, Ledwith  66.6 [36-38]

14 Jenkins, Priest, Ablitt, Pavitt  66.3 [38-42]

15 Perry, Jenkins, Coles, Rowe  65.3 [42-44]

 

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