Kent Kings storm to top of the league
Kent Kings storm to top of the league

The Kent TouchTec Kings stormed to the top of the National League [NL] standings with a determinedly solid showing against Stoke Potters at Central Park Stadium on Monday evening winning by 53 points to 37.

The score line, to be fair, belied an impressive effort by the visitors from Staffs who ultimately paid the price for having really only three top performers, trailing away at the end as a four point margin at the end of heat 12 became a decisively sweet 16 when the dust had settled on heat 15.

The plusses were many for the hosts – not just up to the top of the table for the first time this term but with top two, Anders Rowe and Drew Kemp in truly dominating form  – with both only denied maximums by a single ‘rush of blood to the head’ moment in one race apiece. For Rowe it was a bizarre moment in heat six when his determination to hold a 5-1 position behind team mate Dan Gilkes backfired badly, catching his racing partner from behind, catapulting him into the air fence on lap two,  The resulting exclusion for bringing down a team mate is not something one sees too often. Nor fortunately is the spectacle of the normally securest of practitioners, especially when out in front, Kemp crashing out when leading – but that’s what happened when under pressure from Stoke’s star man Tom Perry in heat 11.

This came in a purple patch for the visitors for whom former Kings’ man Connor Coles and the exciting stylist Joe Lawlor were impressive indeed, as the Potters took their cue from a tactical substitute appearance from Perry in heat nine to reduce a 10 point deficit at the halfway mark to a vulnerable looking four with just three heats to go.

As expected Kent had the upper hand at reserve with Gilkes in just his second meeting since his return from injury, really back in the groove with paid 14 and Nathan Ablitt a little ring rustier on his own return but still delivering, with paid eight.  The ‘guest’ for Rob Ledwith, the long-travelling David Wallinger put on a sterling show to record double figures too and also back from his latest injury absence, Jordan Jenkins put in a useful stint.

The minus was again though a significant one sadly, with new signing (announced as a King after the meeting) Jake Mulford the latest to succumb to the shocking injury hoodoo afflicting Chris Hunt’s charges this term – suffering a first race crash and then hit heavily in the midriff as he lay prone on the track by the following Joe Alcock.  Some internal bleeding was suspected as his abdomen swelled alarmingly after bravely walking away from the crash and there was sufficient concern to call in a county ambulance to take the 15-year-old away for further medical observation – thus missing the planned signing of contract documents in the post meeting press conference.

In the end that denouement of three 5-1s in heat 13 to 15 inclusive saw the TouchTec Kings safely home and for the Central Park fans for once, there was to be no late biting of nails!

Rider of the Night with a very mature head on young shoulders, Dan Gilkes was as impressive post-match as he’d been assured on track, stating,

“I always set out to score as many points as possible,  but I don’t expect them. It’s still about getting experience, learning about racing at this level and I’m glad to be back and out there helping the team”.

Team Manager Chris Hunt was realistic about the proceedings,

“Well it wasn’t completely plain sailing – and we did leave some points out there on the track, so it could’ve been a bigger win and we will have a chat to sort it out.  But at the end of the day we go marching on and now we are top of the table it’s up to us to stay there”

Of the signing of the unfortunate Mulford, co-promoter Len Silver revealed the news all Kings’ fan wanted to hear,

“Jake’s family were insistent that even though he is at hospital right now with suspected internal injuries (which as I know is always a big concern and sadly it will I expect be a little while before he’s back on track) that I make the announcement we were going to have with a formal signing ceremony that’s obviously had to be postponed – that Jake has pledged his future to the Kent Kings.  This is, I can tell you, something I’m very happy about. Jake is an outstanding prospect with many other clubs wanting to get him to sign for them, so it’s a real boost that he’s chosen us”.

Next up for the Kings are the two away legs of the three-part SilverSki Holidays Fours at Isle of Wight (Thursday 25th.) and Plymouth (Friday 26th.), before looking to defend that newly-gained top slot in the NL with the visit of major contenders, Leicester Lion Cubs at Central Park next Monday (29th.)

 

Kent TouchTec Kings 53

 

Anders Rowe 3  X 3  3 2* 11+1

Rider Replacement – Alex Spooner

Jordan Jenkins 2  1* 0  2 5+1

David Wallinger [G] 1*  2 2 1 2* 8+2

Drew Kemp 3  2* FX  2* 3 10+2

Dan Gilkes 2*  3 3  2 3 13+1

Nathan Ablitt 3  1 1*  0 1* 6+2

Jake Mulford FX         0

 

Stoke Potters         37

 

Tom Perry 2  3 3  3 1 12

Rider Replacement – Luke Priest

Joe Lawlor 3  1 2  3 0 9

Shelby Rutherford  FX 0 0 1* 1 2+1

Connor Coles 2  2 3  2* 0 1 10+1

James Laker 1  1* 0 2+1

Joe Alcock 1*  R 0  0 1 R 2+1 

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