Kent Kings 39-51 Glasgow Tigers
Kent Kings 39-51 Glasgow Tigers

A sell-out crowd, a beautiful June evening, a record-breaking 19 points haul by their marquee signing – a perfect meeting for the Kent TouchTec Kings in very many respects except for the result. 

The reality was, as the Kings went down to a 39-51 defeat, that the Glasgow Tigers are very likely indeed to be the winners of this division, the SGB Championship come October and they’ll be many sides who’ll struggle even on home shale to cope with their strength. 

To have led at the midway stage of the match, up 23-19 at the end of that de facto halfway point of heat 7 only to fall way in heats 8 through to 11, falling to three maximum reverses in that devastating four heat salvo, shows that this was an encounter not only closer than many had predicted but one which throws up many positives moving forward.

First the one massive negative though – the heat two crash which saw Kent’s boy wonder Dan Gilkes limping out of proceedings without completing even four laps with a foot injury. Dan and the club await anxiously the result of x-rays on his damaged toes. 

That came when the Tigers’ often controversial on his previous visits to Central Park, Jack Smith fell right in front of Kent’s young GB international in heat two.  Gilkes had no time to avoid ploughing into Smith who also had to withdraw from the meeting with an injured arm. 

This gave extra opportunities for the Danish Under 21 Champion occupying, currently, the other reserve berth for the visiting Scottish side to take a full seven rides scoring paid 12. 

The other double points return for the visitors came from the Tigers’ young American Broc Nichol who went unbeaten by an opponent in his four programmed rides until his near namesake, Scott Nicholls scuppered the Californian’s chances of a paid maximum in heat 15.

That was a measure of revenge for Kent’s debutant skipper denied by Broc in the opening heat. 

It was heat 3 then where history was made with one of Kent’s other new signings Tom Bacon becoming the first home heat winner of the new Championship era.  Nicholls soon followed, scorching to victory in 56.8 (one of the fastest ever winning times at this track) in the following race; and when Nicholls combined with racing partner Paul Hurry in heat 6 in a team riding masterclass to get a 5-1, the Kings had an encouraging six points lead over their much-vaunted opponents.

That mid-meeting burst did for the lead and indeed pushed the visitors to the brink of victory which they then clinched when their skipper Craig Cook, who’d started the meeting slowly, inflicted a second defeat on the night on his Kentish counterpart Nicholls in the decisive heat 13.

The other pluses for Kent team boss Chris Hunt was the battling performance of Paul Starke, coming from behind in the racing manoeuvre of the night to beat the World Cup-winning Dane Ulrich Ostergaard in heat 7 and then being involved in a massive scrap to try and get past Jensen in heat 9, the two riders separated by millimetres at the chequered flag. Then there was a typically battling effort by the very busy Morley in finally besting the Dane, Jensen in the penultimate race of the night.

A night that the skipper Scott Nicholls looked back on with a positive outlook,

“It was always going to be a tough match as Glasgow are most people’s tip to win the title and then we had to cope with R/R for Cameron and losing Dan to injury right at the start.  So I thought we did really well to hang on in there as long as we did and indeed give the Tigers a fright by pulling away into a handy lead in the first part of the meeting.

“I take positives away for sure as everyone showed signs of what they can deliver on for the team and we are looking forward to taking on Plymouth next Tuesday”.

Of his own performance the seven-tines British Champion commented,

“It was the first time I’d seen the track so have to be pretty content at this point with five heat wins.  It’s always tough on such a scorching hot day to get track preparation right but the track held up and rode well – I’m looking forward to the next home meeting.”

And that is against big-spending Plymouth Gladiators on Tuesday 15th.June with tickets going on sale on Wednesday morning at 10am.

Kent TouchTec Kings                      39

Scott Nicholls     2  3  3  3  3  2  3               = 19

Paul Hurry          FX  2*  0   R  0                 = 2+1

Paul Starke         1  1*  2 1  0  0                  =5+1

Tom Bacon         3  2  0  0  0                        = 5

Cameron Heeps – Rider Replacement

Ben Morley        2  1 R 1 1 2                       = 7

Dan Gilkes           1* withdrew – injured  = 1+1

Jake Mulford      DNR

Glasgow Tigers                                51

Craig Cook          1  0  3  3  1*                    = 8+1

Broc Nicol            3  3  2*  2*  2                  = 12+2

Ulrich Ostergaard   2  1  2  2                      = 7

Justin Sedgmen   0  3 1* 3                          =7+1

Ricky Wells         2  1  3 1                            = 7

Sam Jensen         3  0  0  3  2*  1*  1            = 10+2

Jack Smith           FX withdrew – injured  = 0

Heat Results

1 (rerun) Nicol, Nicholls, Cook, Hurry (fell exc.)  59.4  (2-4)

2 (stpd, awarded) Jensen, Morley, Gilkes, Smith (fell exc.) no time  (5-7)

3 Bacon, Ostergaard, Starke, Sedgmen 57.7 (9-9)

4 (rerun twice) Nicholls, Wells, Morley, Jensen (B/T 15m) 56.8 (13-11)

5 (rerun) Nicol, Bacon, Starke, Cook (B/T 15m)  58.1  (16-14)

6 Nicholls, Hurry, Wells, Jensen 58.6 (21-15)

7 Sedgmen, Starke, Ostergaard, Morley (ret.) 57.6 (23-19)

8  Jensen, Nicol, Morley, Hurry 57.5 (24-24)

9 Wells, Jensen, Starke, Bacon 58.6 (25-29)

10 Nicholls, Ostergaard, Sedgmen, Hurry (fell rem. ret.) 58.1 (28-32)

11 Cook, Nicol, Morley, Bacon 58.1 (29-37)

12 (rerun) Nicholls, Ostergaard, Jensen, Starke 57.8 (32-40) 57.8

13 Cook, Nicholls, Wells, Hurry 57.7  (34-44)

14 Sedgmen, Morley, Jensen, Bacon 58.8 (36-48)

15 Nicholls, Nicol, Cook, Starke 58.1 (39-51)