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Edinburgh Monarchs Academy reign over Kent Royals
Edinburgh Monarchs Academy reign over Kent Royals

The first part of Kent’s Northern tour ended in a defeat at Armadale on Friday evening as The Royals went down 52-37 to the Edinburgh Monarchs Academy.

For the Monarchs Academy it was their top three trio of Jacob Hook, Kyle Bickley and Adam Roynon who did the bulk of the scoring, claiming eleven heat wins between them. Bickley and Hook dropped just one point to Kent riders both scoring 13+1 whilst Adam Roynon went unbeaten for a second successive home match with a 12-point maximum.

For The Royals it was another meeting of frustration where things just didn’t go their way, there were some individual performances which will certainly have impressed, but as a team they just fell short. Once again for The Royals it was number one Ben Morley who top scored with 10 points, while support came from captain Tom Woolley who contributed 9 points to the total, and on coronation weekend it was appropriate that the aptly Connor King chipped in with 8 points. Elsewhere there was also a race win for Rhys Naylor.

Proceedings started well with The Royals taking an early lead after the opening two races. The first race was shared, with home rider Mickie Simpson taking a tumble between bends three and four and earning himself a disqualification. The re-run saw the Royals Essex based duo of Morley and Naylor pack in the minor places behind Kyle Bickley. In the second race the reserve pairing of Connor King and Sam Woolley initially gated on a maximum 5-1 heat advantage. Woolley was passed by Edinburgh reserve Kyran Lyden, and the 4-2 heat win gave the Royals the initial advantage in the match.

That lead however was quickly extinguished in the very next race when the Monarchs Academy duo of Adam Roynon and Alex Spooner gained a maximum 5-1 to put the hosts in front and it was a lead they never surrendered. The race itself though wasn’t without incident as Roynon and Kent’s Joe Alcock made the start together before Alcock fell exiting the second bend. Kent captain Tom Woolley slowed expecting the race to be stopped, and Alex Spooner took advantage of the situation to follow his partner home.

The hosts increased their lead to six points with 4-2 heat advantages in heats 5 and 6 and Jacob Hook took his first two heat wins of the night in the shared races either side of an eventful eighth race. Heat 6 was not without incident, as guest Danny Phillips was excluded for missing the two minutes, engine failure at the tapes being the issue. The Royals pairing of Rhys Naylor and Connor King were on a maximum heat advantage which would have cut the deficit to just two points. However, disaster was to strike as Rhys appeared to tangle with his opposite number two Mickie Simpson and take a heavy tumble. The travelling Royals fans were confused when the referee decided that Kent Reserve Connor King was at fault and the Royals reserve was disqualified. The replay showed that Connor had come wide and Rhys had no choice but to lay the bike down. It was the bike that took the brunt of the damage for Rhys – unfortunately it’s a second meeting in a row that Rhys has taken a heavy tumble. The re-run of the eighth race saw Rhys take a tapes to flag win for another shared race.

Another eventful race took place in Heat 10, which saw only two finishers and three attempts to complete. The first staging saw Royals Joe Alcock take another tumble on the first turn which saw the Stoke born racer disqualified for the second time of the evening. The second staging saw Mickie Simpson come to grief on the third bend of the first lap, to also earn his second disqualification of the night. This left Kyle Bickley and Tom Woolley left in a straight shootout match race. That was won by Bickley, to put the hosts nine points up.

The end of the meeting saw Tom Woolley and Ben Morley take their sole victories in Heats 12 and 15 respectively, and in between the hosts extended their lead to 15 points which will give The Royals a challenge to get the aggregate bonus point in the return leg at The Old Gun Site.

Speaking after the match manager Jamie Willis said “A frustrating night in which things didn’t quite go our way. Once again individuals impressed but as a team unit, we fell short.” The riders were keen to show their appreciation. “The whole team would like to thank all the supporters that travelled and those who bought the livestream, we’ll try to put things right at Berwick.”